Cybersex in Free Realms. Or “Brad and Kimiko make a Porno.”

Free Realms is targeted at children. That being the case it needs to be extremely robust in dealing with anti-social behaviour.

In the most recent patch, the radius within which you can hear other people talking was greatly increased. Where previously, chat only extended perhaps the equivalent of 100 meters, now you can hear people half the world away. It is unclear at this time whether or not it was intended, but there have so far been no admissions that it was unintended. The consequences are not good.

There have been people asking for, and being given phone numbers, from people they’ve just met. Asking for personal details such as age and sex, and all manner of stuff that would not be anywhere near as disturbing in a game marketed for adults. Then we have the general meanness that we all know from other MMOs, but that is a little harder to legislate against. A lot of us adult types like Free Realms for the very reason that we did not, until the chat-range changes, have to put up with the sort of nastiness that is epidemic in the global chats of other MMO. As Lum would say, “People are broken.”. Free Realms is our happy place.

I’ve had quite a few people come up to me and ask me to be their boyfriend. Of course I politely decline, but it seems a bit of a weird thing to do, and makes me think that they are probably rather less than 13 years old. In fact you hear people giving out personal details all the time, and age is a common one, and if half of them were telling the truth, there are a LOT of people under the age of 13 who have access to chat. Whether that’s because they lied about their age when they signed up, or because their parents have chosen to not use the security features, I don’t know. Obviously parental responsibility is incredibly important when you let your kids on the internet, but SOE has to be able to provide a safe environment even to kids whose parents don’t give a damn. For some kids, it might be the only safe environment they have. Gods, that’s a depressing thought, but it is true.

I’ve also heard a lot of sexual talk, some of the worst I captured below.

Free Realms Cybersex

Free Realms Cybersex

Needless to say I tried to report Brad and Kimiko (Two of the pre-generated first name offerings. There are a lot of Brads and Kimikos, so anonymity is preserved in the above log.), but guess what? The /report function does not work, and I am not the only person who says that. If Free Realms is going to really succeed, it needs to convince parents that it is a safe place to let their kids have fun. Now, I do not have children, but I am truly unimpressed with how seriously SOE seem to be taking this. The chat-range is pretty much world-wide at the moment, so you plant a referee in Sanctuary on every server , and start hitting the ban button. Pretty simple.

There IS a profanity filter, but as you can see, no profanity filter can prevent people managing to be completely disgusting. To ensure a pleasant environment, SOE needs many more referees than currently appears to be the case. I am beginning to wonder if an MMO that allows open chat can EVER be child-safe, but for sure, it can’t be done without making the effort. With 2 million players, and growing, you need at least several hundred staff to maintain the safe and pleasant community. Some people will come to Free Realms with the express purpose of ruining it, and even more than in other MMO, they need to be stopped.

p.s. I am available for hire.

8 pm. 1st of June. I updated with a few extra thoughts culled from an brief email discussion I had on the subject. I should also add that today I was able to get the /report function to work (or at least it did not give an error message. Instead there was no response at all.). I did not do anything different to all the other times I have tried.

Free Realms May 19th/20th/21st Update notes.

Ooh, new content!!! It seems to be mostly member-only (which I am anyway), but I guess that’s OK for now.

Our latest update has a ton of new stuff. Here are the highlights:

* There are new members only combat, non-combat and collection quests added across the world (see below for details).

* Bristlewood now has its own warpstone

* Added in several new in-world minigames to Seaside

* Pets will stay happy, clean and fed for longer and will also find collection and mining nodes more often

* We’ve continued to optimize video card performance to allow lower end cards to have higher frames per second in game

Members Only Quests have been added to the following areas:

Merry Vale:
* Ronnie Britesmile is not allowed to play until he finishes his chores. He might give you something cool if you give him a hand!

* If you’ve already found Mugwopp for Blorple at the Greenwood Camp, he’ll have a new task for you.

* Recruit Agga afraid of getting lost in the hedge maze. Help him piece together a map.

Farnum’s Farm:
Rucks, the farmhand, has thrown down the gauntlet and has a series of challenges for skilled harvesters. Dare you take him on?

Pixie Nursery:
* Blazing Star and Flax thought that if they put a collar on their pet fish, no one would take it from the pond, but it’s gone now! Help them find out what happened.

* Tugaboom would like a brave fighter to help him solve the rebelling Bixie problem.

Shrouded Glade:
* Cella Cedernook found a baby penguin and need help caring for it. “*Squeel!* It’s so cute!”
* Meanwhile, Emil Jadefish and friend had a little boating accident. They could really use a hand!
* Tald Daybreaker’s friend is lost up in Misty Mountains. Are you brave enough to rescue him?

* Auralie wants to invite the queen to her next party, but is too shy to ask. Can you help her deliver the invitation?
* Feldman wants to be a famous journalist, but need help gathering more information for a story he’s working on.

Blackspore Swamp:
* Sirdo “Squirrel Chaser” is embarrassed about his nickname. Would you be willing to help him out so he can overcome his bad reputation?

* Rainchaser has more challenges for you.
* Kendall, the lifeguard, needs someone quick to help him out.
* Mr. Mudd is sickened by the trash on the beach, but has a fun way of cleaning it up.

New combat quests:
If you’re a member see if you can help out the following people:
* Spruce Waynehammer’s pet, Robin, keeps getting lost in the Bat Caves.
* Susy Cloudrunner by the Briar Patch has a big bear problem.
* Yuri Petaldancer by the rebelling Bixie Hive wants to taste what royal honey is like.
* Blari wants to cure the sickly saplings in Bristlewood Glade, but isn’t strong enough to fight off the creatures there.
* Vasher claims he’d like to recover some old explorer bones from Cracked Claw Caverns so he can give them a proper burial.
* Buttercup Webbywand’s spider was kidnapped by trolls in Grexan’s Camp.
* Help Puck Petalpucker near Misty Mountain ace his science project.
* Johnny has an idea for you to try out at the Mushroom Cavern.
* Jimmy Squarefeet’s snowman friend has been kidnapped! Seek him out in Snowy Canyon.
* Jenny Greenteeth wants to plant some friendly plants in Treeleaf’s Retreat.

Bonus Update Notes for the 19th of May. It didn’t deserve its own post at the time,


* Members can now try/buy the ghost cats and dogs located at the Blackspore Pet Adoption Center.
* Players can rent Max the Lazy Dog at the Blackspore Pet Adoption Center.

Treasure Vault

* The Member’s Only Treasure Vault has received extensive improvements.

Free Realms May 12th Update notes.

They didn’t give us full patch notes this time, but we did get a list of highlights:

* Members will now have an increased chance of encountering rich mining nodes

* Member potions and spheres are once again being distributed in-game

* The Marketplace now has a Members Only category

* There are several new items in the Marketplace

* The Briarwood warpstone is once again active

* A pet adoption center has been setup in Blackspore

* Base Ninja health has been increased across all ranks

* Contract: Life and Death Magic and Contract: That’ll Teach ‘Em are now repeatable quests

* The Changelings in Darvon’s Descent are no longer able to keep the artifacts they stole from showing up on the minimap. Players on the quest Stolen Artifacts should have an easier time locating them now.

* The quests “I Love Mushrooms” and “A Thorny Situation” can now be completed

* At the end of a kart race, Portraits, Total Time and Placement now appear properly

* The quest path will now properly update when selecting quests in your Quest Journal

* The lightning bolt bomb powerup is much more zappy than before! It will now blow up enemies from greater distances!

* Quickchat is now available from the Friends list

* Players will now be removed from the acquaintance list once they are added to the Friends list

In addition to the highlights, we’ve stomped out a lot of bugs submitted by our players. Thanks a lot for your help!

Free Realms! + Free Realms May 6th Update notes.

Yes indeed! In the absence of any other MMO I much feel like playing at the moment (though there are quite a few incoming) I have jumped aboard the FreeRealms bandwagon. As I already had an SOE Station Access account, I get FreeRealms membership included on that which allows me to access some extra content over the free version, so I figured I might as well give it a try.

It’s rather fun! While I am not sure there is enough there to satisfy the hardcore gamer for long, even after it loses that new-game shine I can see me popping in to play my favourite minigames. My favourite so far is Penguin Produce, which is a penguiny take on the old game where you build turrets to destroy successive waves of evil-doers, to prevent them from reaching your tower. I’ve not had so much puzzley fun since Yo Ho Ho Puzzle Pirates!

Free Realms update notes for the 6th of May are after the jump.

Continue reading Free Realms! + Free Realms May 6th Update notes.