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[P]
I Don't Want Your Freedom

By Talez in Op-Ed
Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 03:51:15 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

Online gaming has been a rather hot topic lately. One of the hottest topics has been the restriction of user's freedom when playing online games. Many "freedom fighters" have come out of the woodwork to publicly denounce the policies of online gaming companies saying that cheating should be a user's right and freedom. I don't pay 10 bucks a month for someone else's freedom.


Back in the days of the Dreamcast, I played Phantasy Star Online heavily. The thing about the Dreamcast was that it had almost non-existent security on its boot procedures. While this was a boon for the homebrew programmers, it also made the lives of those who made cheat devices much easier. Phantasy Star Online was ruined before it was even started. People were using cheat devices to hack up items, hack up levels, make challenge mode a walk in the park. It was a disaster. It just wasn't fun after the novelty of it wore off. That game was ruined for me because of someone else's freedom.

One might say, "You don't have to play with cheaters" but the whole economy was tainted. You couldn't tell if a really good item was real, or some duplicate of a hacked up item. People even developed the ability to Character Kill (CK). If you were playing in an open game people would literally come into the game and reduce your character back to nothing. And it was permanent. If you turned off your Dreamcast without saving, you would lose all items except those you have equipped.

What began was an arms race between the cheaters and Sonic Team, trying to stop cheaters from executing all these sneaky tricks. The cheaters just kept developing new workarounds to Sonic Team's patches. In the end they had a failsafe method to get past the cheating bans. They just disconnected before the server initiated the ban procedure. In the end Sonic Team lost. The game was overrun by cheaters. The freedom of being able to enjoy a game I love was taken away by some faceless person spending hours exercising his supposed "freedom" to ruin my online experience.

Skip to the current day. Microsoft are banning modified Xbox systems from their network and Sony are trying to stop people from hacking EverQuest for an unfair advantage. Slashdot has covered both of these events.

The Microsoft affair included a scathing swipe at Microsoft's policies insinuating that Microsoft's next step would be banning for trivial things. While the staff made no editorial comment themselves, the specific write-up for this story that they posted gives us an idea into their opinion. Thankfully sanity shined through and the ignorant ranting of freedom at any cost was drowned out by serious concerns that people had and still have about cheating in online games.

The Sony affair however was not as clear cut. Many came out of the woodwork to support the work of the ShowEQ authors. Many made the argument of: "It does no harm. Why is Sony trying to stop it?" The reasoning behind this is:

  1. It does harm everyone else. It gives one person a specific advantage. I've seen it in use. Quests designed to be nearly impossible can be completed in mere hours instead of weeks. Players can use it to kill monsters and loot the valuable items much faster than any normal player could. It generally makes the playing field unleveled.
  2. I pay 12 dollars a month for a good, clean game. I pay Sony to take this sort of action on my behalf. I expect anyone who tries to cheat to be thrown out of what is supposed to be a good clean game.


Personally, the worst thing I find in this current debate is that people who are ignorant in the processes and the climate of online gaming are taking it upon themselves to make remarks of even larger ignorance about freedom for cheaters and the tools that they use. While they may be the minority, or even fabled "trolls", the fact of the matter is that this group exists and it disturbs me as a member of the online gaming community.

Please don't force your freedoms onto us. We don't want them. We just want to be able to play our games in our closed, secure environments as free as possible from the threat of cheaters and malicious hackers. While I respect the work that you do in other areas, could you please just go far, far away from this one?

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Have you ever had an online experience ruined by cheaters?
o Yes 67%
o No 26%
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Votes: 109
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Display: Sort:
I Don't Want Your Freedom | 120 comments (111 topical, 9 editorial, 1 hidden)
But (1.84 / 13) (#2)
by Psycho Les on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 07:14:19 PM EST

What about the freedom of the cheaters?

They have the freedom (4.00 / 5) (#3)
by srn on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 07:53:15 PM EST

Not to play.

[ Parent ]
If you cheat, you are stealing. (3.87 / 8) (#6)
by gordonjcp on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 08:22:36 PM EST

You've stolen my twelve quid that I paid to play my game. What about my right to steal your car?

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
w00t (3.14 / 7) (#7)
by Psycho Les on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 08:26:35 PM EST

What a great analogy.  You, sir are king of the righteously indignant.

[ Parent ]
Everyone has rights (4.60 / 5) (#14)
by jman11 on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 09:56:29 PM EST

What about the freedom/right (I'm going to use rights here as it is really what we are talking about) of the players to be involved in a fair and even contest.  Rights are not absolute and contradict each other in myriad places.  What is required is a balanced weighing up of people's rights.  Most sensible people would say the rights of the honest player should be put above those of the person trying to cheat.  Don't forget the line backer in college ball doesn't have the right to inject steroids - there are these things called rules, they help create an interesting contest.

Remember I have the right to free speech, but I do not have the right to incite a riot (that would violate someone's right to life, safety, etc).

[ Parent ]

What about it? (1.75 / 4) (#23)
by pwhysall on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 01:25:51 AM EST

They can all rot, as far as I'm concerned.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Eh? (1.00 / 1) (#76)
by pwhysall on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 04:56:56 PM EST

OK, you 1-raters. Got something to say?
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]
you asked (2.00 / 1) (#102)
by eudas on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 01:11:44 PM EST

since you demanded justification for rating, here it is.

i do have something to say, and by rating your comment a '1' i am saying, 'your comment was worthless because your one-line opinion adds nothing to this conversation'.

i fully expect others to do the same to me when i emit such worthless squelches of line noise.

i also fully expect others NOT to simply rate comments out of a sense of revenge.

i hope my position is clear.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Freedom > Freedom? (4.00 / 2) (#85)
by EXTomar on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 08:20:29 PM EST

Okay this is about eithics employed in a game so in the grand ranking of morality it isn't very high.

However I'm very shocked by the implication of this simple question. If a cheater is allowed to operate freely they've gained an advantage. Why does a cheater deserve any more freedom than a player on the level? They don't since honest player freedom is somewhat incompatible.

So why does a cheater's freedom mean any more than an honest player's freedom? If this question can be answered then I can justify switching pieces around on a chess board the next time I play.



[ Parent ]
Renting Versus Owning (4.69 / 13) (#4)
by elysion on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 07:57:24 PM EST

Gamers are paying to rent time on the servers. They do not own the servers. If the servers decide not to allow cheating, then all these cries of "freedom" are sheer nonsense. You do not have the freedom as a renter to do anything you please with what you are renting.

If you set up a server of your own and decide to allow cheating that is, of course, an entirely different story.

game servers (3.00 / 1) (#46)
by eudas on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 11:40:07 AM EST

the fun thing is when you get issues like bnetd so you can't run your own servers either.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

It costs millions of dollars to set up a server (3.66 / 3) (#47)
by pin0cchio on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 11:42:04 AM EST

If you set up a server of your own

Then you face thousands of dollars in legal fees, with millions of dollars in damages if you lose.


lj65
[ Parent ]
Best answer I can give is (4.58 / 12) (#8)
by Rogerborg on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 08:38:23 PM EST

That cheating in an online game should be designed out from day 1, not papered over once it's gone gold.  Coincidentally, I expounded on that in this Slashdot comment earlier today.

Is is possible to do this.  You just have to assume - right from day 1 - that sooner or later you'll be sending decipherable packets to a hacked client.  I'd blame it on the usual games development issue of management wanting to see things spinning on screen too early, but in this case it really does seem to be down to a genuine ignorance among commercial games developers.  They (and I used to be one, so I know of what I speak) just don't seem to even think about how to prevent cheating in multiplayer until they're too far into development to fix it.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs

Is this practical? (4.83 / 6) (#13)
by iwnbap on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 09:45:47 PM EST


Most FPS style games have some kind of client-side computation to predict the opponent's future moves; it allows games to be playable with 100ms+ latency.  These schemes just don't work unless the client knows where all the opponents are.


[ Parent ]
There are ways (4.33 / 3) (#42)
by Pac on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 09:18:33 AM EST

If the design of the client takes cheating into account, many things become clear. The first among them is that the server can never trust a client. Let the clients do whatever they have to do to enhance performance, but never ever trust what they tell you.

When a client tells the server its player fragged another, this information can not be trusted. The server may run a pool among its clients or ask a random client for confirmation. If the server maintains a simple map of walls and players (map as a data structure, not as a drawing), it may be able rule out a lot of simple but effective cheats. Eventually the server may have enough information to decide a certain client is cheating - it can then procced to punish this player in whatever way it seems fit.

Obviously all this bring some performance penalty to the server and, maybe, the client). But, as Microsoft is learning now about security, sometimes people will agree to pay the price in exchange for a better environment.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


[ Parent ]
Maphacking (4.00 / 1) (#92)
by iwnbap on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 11:29:23 PM EST

What it doesn't really rule out is maphacking, which are (IMHO) the bits of games which seem to contribute most to gameplay, and seem to be the hardest bits to spot. Even netrek (the granddaddy of the genre) which was built on the philosophy of "don't trust the client" had the classic borg where cloaked opponents could be hacked to be visible.  The reason; gameplay demanded that the client be visible on the galactic map (the large-scale one) but not on the tactical (which showed the ships zoomed in).  In this way players could still score hits on opponents by guessing their positions.

Most games need to support similar kinds of features, where there are clues to an objects presence, but the whole object is not revealed.  For instance, in dungeon-exploration type games, not being able to know the full map extent makes the game interesting.  Cloaked/hidden opponents, ambushes, etc. make games interesting.  The requirement to aim at opponents makes games interesting (and auto-aim is another classic hack).  It is these features that distinguish other games from ProgressQuest.


[ Parent ]

Good example (none / 0) (#105)
by Rogerborg on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 07:22:34 PM EST

the classic borg where cloaked opponents could be hacked to be visible.

But with an inaccurate position, infrequently updated, and with no heading or speed info.  It's of limited usefulness, although there is still room for improvement; ideally, the server shouldn't even send a unit ID for cloaked units.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Sometimes latency makes this difficult. (5.00 / 1) (#101)
by vectro on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 01:04:54 PM EST

Of course the server can reject invalid commands from a client and avoid sending too much data to the client. But there are cases where the server must necessarily send data to the client which is not to be displayed on-screen, and there are cases where the client can play better-than-human without sending invalid data to the client.

in FPS games, the server needs to update the client with the positions of other players in the vicinity of the client -- even if such players are behind walls. Why? Because if the player in question goes around a corner, it takes too long to update the position of whoever is around that corner from the server. A hacked client can make use of this information, which is necessarily sent to the client.

There is actually a similar problem in Starcraft - some game elements (most notably cloaked units) must be displayed for a user, but the game rules depend on the client to display them in a "cloaked" fashion - namely, a distorted translucency. A hacked client could merely display the units in a more obvious way.

Finally, there is the question of hacks that allow the player to do things allowed by the game but better than a human could. The most common example of this is aimbots, an FPS cheat which basically aims directly at someone once you point your gun in their direction. There's nothing the server can do about this.

You might argue that some of these problems are in fact game design problems; that if the rules of Quake were such that you could see around corners and Starcraft didn't have cloaked items, then everything would be fine. But to do so is to be in denial; the fact that it is possible to design a game that can be securely implemented does not mean that this is true for all games.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

Secret Server Agents! (none / 0) (#113)
by Pac on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 08:50:15 AM EST

All problems you point are true. I don't see any easy way out of a cheat that prevents wall rendering at the client side, for instance. Since the client will not inform the server it moved or shot through a wall, just let the player sees where the opponents are, it is something very hard check.

One line of combat here is an arms race similar to the one between copy-protection and crackers. The game clients can have more security features against tampering, the protocol may be encrypted etc. As I said, it is an arms race without any victory perspective, only partial stalemates.

One fancy idea that comes to mind is the use of semi-intelligent secret server agents to gather information about the client. The server could now and then create dummy players and send them to a specific client to see what happens. Or just dummy cloaked units, for that matter. The decision process becomes heuristic. Innocents will suffer. But it may help catch some cheaters eventually (after the 20th time a dummy cloaked unit is immediately tailed and killed our server will start to get suspicious. And angry about losing his agents in such suicidal missions).

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


[ Parent ]
Dummy agents (none / 0) (#116)
by vectro on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 12:00:52 PM EST

The problem with these dummy agents is that the an unmodified client would display them if the player turns the corner in question. Furthermore, any player (cheating or otherwise) will need to see the agent before shooting at him or her, which makes the whole business exceedingly difficult.

Probably the only reasonable way to avoid cheating is this case is to invoke society, which is very good at preventing cheating in general. Let users register for game servers using some 'real' token of society - it could be money, it could be address or phone number verification, etc. Then if some such user is found cheating, he or she can be banned. Of course the key step there is catching the cheater once, but if game logs are kept and cheating is uncommon a human could look at what happened and evaluate it herself.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

It's a judgement call (none / 0) (#106)
by Rogerborg on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 07:31:23 PM EST

Sure, the client should make guesstimates about what's going on (for visual niceness), but sending too much information is (I suggest) worse than sending too little in the long run.

For example, many FPS's send information about players hidden behind walls and doors, so that when they emerge they don't suddenly pop into view in the middle of a room if the ping is choppy.  Combine that with aimbots and weapons that can fire through walls (or rockets and corners) and you get a game that's not very "playable" for those not using hacked clients.

Actually, FPS's are a nice example of a game design that's gagging to be abused.  Many of the weapons are instant-hit, so aimbots have a huge effect.  Contrast with netrek, where perfect aim is a disadvantage (because a half decent human player will dodge perfectly aimed torpedoes every time).  Netrek provides a great example of how to design a game for playability rather than as a simulation.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Hmmm (4.00 / 1) (#61)
by jmzero on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 01:43:52 PM EST

Most cheating is stopped by having the server run the game in lock-step sort of fashion - this elimates the "normal player couldn't do that" sort of cheating.  This is designed into a lot of games, and is certainly a "design issue" sort of problem.

The remaining cheats are either automation or "extra information" cheats.  Limiting information (eg. don't send information on a player if you shouldn't be able to see him) is certainly doable and it's also something that could be added fairly late in development.  It would mean doing a quick, fairly basic look at scene objects and simply not sending information on ones that aren't visible.  There would have to be some margin of error (ie, you don't really want to be computing at the server whether a player should be able to see some guy's thumb through a chain-link fence), but it would work fairly well.  There's still windows of opportunities here for the cheater, though, in terms of making the player more aware of whatever limited information is available (ie, that tiny visible bit of helmet is now blinking orange).

I don't think there's any way to really get rid of automation type cheats (although I suppose you could test for the presence of a human player pretty easily, preventing hours of unattended "macro"-ing).

The only solution, in the end, to all these problems is the one many companies use - updated versions of the program.  The arms race.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Computational limits (none / 0) (#118)
by X3nocide on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 01:16:30 PM EST

The big problem I see with being frugal with the gamestate information is that its computationally complex to decide just what portion of the gamestate is visible to a player. Take CS, everyone's favorite example of a game rife with cheating. If a guy is behind a rock, how can we tell if he's completely hidden? Because if he isn't then there will need be some information sent to the player about the guy. performing occulsion testing for n players will get expensive, even if you fudge it a little and say that if you can't see Bob, Bob can't see you. The other problem mentioned is latency. After 100 ms, without client side prediction you're pretty much hosed. And client side prediction will need information about hidden players in the case that it would be predicted they'd come into view. You might consider client side prediction to be a sort of hack and cheat explicitly allowed by the designers, but until you can buy latency instead of bandwidth its gonna be a tough sell to drop prediction. It would be interesting however to develop a prediction method with partial information.

pwnguin.net
[ Parent ]
The recent Nethack tourney (4.00 / 5) (#9)
by Anonymous 7324 on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 08:56:40 PM EST

was held by SSHing/telnetting into the remote server to play, AFAIK.

Technical issues with computational load and lag aside, there's something to be said for the philosophy that all clients are untrusted and will be hacked, palladium or not.

As for your pleadings for the l33t h4x0rs to stay away -- you know full well that they won't. Just as we've had discussions where it's been pointed out, no matter how unethical or immoral the deed, someone will do it (writing spam software, anyone?) as long as there's a motivation -- in this case, probably fame and acclaim. The answer is a combination of rigorous banning, vigilant (not vigilante) and watchful in-game GM's (game-masters), and of course, thin untrusted clients.

The plea isn't for l33t h4x0rs to stay away (3.11 / 9) (#10)
by Talez on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 09:04:16 PM EST

It's for the left wing freedom fighters to piss off and stop with the cries of "people have the freedom to cheat! bad evil capitalists for banning people who cheat!"

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est
[ Parent ]
Well then what are you complaing about? (4.00 / 3) (#32)
by Trevor OLeary on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 07:54:18 AM EST

I recommend not reading /. SOunds like it would improve your mental health.


[ Parent ]
cheaters suck, unfortunately... (4.50 / 4) (#12)
by jonboy on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 09:36:09 PM EST

Counter-strike is another game that has been ruined by cheaters. I don't play online anymore because the last ten times or so I've been online people have been obviously cheating (two-shot kills with the most inaccurate gun in the game from all the way across the level is a huge tipoff that something isn't right).

Unfortunately, I just can't see how this could be stopped short of palladium. And I think cheaters would probably crack even that eventually. It's cool that Microsoft is banning modded XBoxes. Short-term this should reduce and possibly eliminate cheating. Unfortunately, I think people will figure out how to get modded X-Boxes on XBox Live without Microsoft knowing. It will probably be done by somebody who just wants to hack around with their XBox *and* play on Live. Unfortunately, the cheaters will pick this up and use it too.

The ultimate answer is untrusted clients. Unfortunately, for games like Counter-strike, this just isn't feasible. The client has to take user input and send it to the server. There's no way to assure that the input is coming straight from a human and not from a program such as an aimbot.

In conclusion, online gaming is doomed.
--
The above post is overrated.

Palladium won't fix the root problem (4.50 / 6) (#25)
by jbridges on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 04:37:50 AM EST

Look at the Everquest cheat, they put another machine in line which monitors the packets. No change to the OS or game can entirely prevent that, all they can do is try to obscure the data over the network.

Then you have online games like Chess.

I had a "get to know you" business meeting over a year ago, the subject of online gaming came up. The technical partner proceeded to tell me in detail how he loved to play chess online at Yahoo... always cheating! How he would try different chess programs out, looking for the best for destroying unknowing human players. Then he noticed it was becoming much harder to beat anyone except a few new comers.

Turns out, the only players left were all cheaters.

That left me with a lasting impression of this business team's honesty (which proved to be correct).

After the supply of new human players dried up, he didn't play chess online much anymore, I assume not many people do.  Nor othello or scrabble or ...

The root problem is accountability. Virtually none of these people would dare cheat in a game played in person where they could be caught and embarrassed.

By the way, I also think selling items or characters is another form of cheating. Granted it's not as destructive to the value of items as cheating, but it is destructive to ethics and fairplay in a game universe.

[ Parent ]

Selling != cheating (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by tzanger on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:09:29 PM EST

By the way, I also think selling items or characters is another form of cheating. Granted it's not as destructive to the value of items as cheating, but it is destructive to ethics and fairplay in a game universe.

I disagree. You worked damned hard and made a significant time investment. If someone else values their time more than you did yours, it's a simple purchase, and you should be allowed to sell it (and them to buy it). Do you also consider it cheating to buy a beautiful oak kitchen table and chairs?

If they are inexperienced, they'll lose that monetary investment quickly by the people who didn't just use Daddy's money to buy a level 40 character. Just the same as anywhere else in life.



[ Parent ]
Difference between "cheating" and " (3.00 / 1) (#87)
by jbridges on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 09:38:57 PM EST

From the perspective of other players, what is the difference between:

1. A user raises his level to 50, gets bored and retires. A newbie uses a cheat to rapidly create a level 50 character, walks up to party of new users, kills their monsters and steals their loot for kicks.

2. A user raises his level to 50, gets bored and sells their character to a newbie who is now instantly a level 50 character, walks up to party of new users, kills their monsters and steals their loot for kicks.

Games are supposed to be fun. Part of the aspect of "fun" is everyone playing by the same rules, having to overcome the same hurdles, good sportsmanship, comaraderie and all that stuff....

If you don't care about any of that, just want to kill orcs with one blow, fine. I'm sure you would find a lot in common with the "harmless" cheaters.

[ Parent ]

Easy, boy (3.00 / 1) (#99)
by tzanger on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 08:51:28 AM EST

If you don't care about any of that, just want to kill orcs with one blow, fine. I'm sure you would find a lot in common with the "harmless" cheaters.

I don't play online games. Don't attack me personally just because we don't agree.

Tell me what the harm is in buying a level 50 character and playing at a level 50... uh... level? I personally find the tedium of the lower levels of play boring as all hell. I'd rather buy a level 50 character and start from level 50 and up. I said nothing about being an anus and slaughtering others just because I have money and they don't. That's being an ass and a bully, but it's not cheating.



[ Parent ]
Same comparison without the trailer (none / 0) (#104)
by jbridges on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 07:20:50 PM EST

Here you go, no reference to what often happens:

From the perspective of other players, what is the difference between:

1. A user raises his level to 50, gets bored and retires. A newbie uses a cheat to rapidly create a level 50 character.

2. A user raises his level to 50, gets bored and sells their character to a newbie who is now instantly a level 50 character.

[ Parent ]

Again, I ask, what is the problem? (none / 0) (#108)
by tzanger on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 08:46:50 PM EST

The cheater and the buyer both get to level 50 without doing the hard work. How does that affect you, as an honest gamer, exactly? They've only cheated themselves out of the experience.

The difference between the cheater and the buyer is on high score lists -- the buyer got his name there though someone else's hard work (again not a problem to me), but the cheater, well, cheated to get there.



[ Parent ]
You answered my question (none / 0) (#110)
by jbridges on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 06:57:04 AM EST

You don't see much difference between the two (from the stand point of other users), neither do I.

Which I why I said they fall into the same catagory as "harmless" cheaters like those in Everquest who use a second PC to monitor the data stream and gain an advantage (making the game much easier for them).

How does that affect me, as an honest gamer, exactly?

It decreases the value of a level, in a social sense. A level 50 something or other affords one a certain amount of respect, and social status in that game world. If it's clear anyone can be a level 50 by cheating or buying a character, then that respect/social status is decreased.

Many people play these massive multi-player games largely for social reasons so decreasing the social value of a level, one that someone may spend thousands of hours attaining is BAD. Much like how cheats spoil the respect many excellent players would get in first person shooter games. When someone is really really good, the first assumption is CHEAT, and that's sad.

[ Parent ]

Scarcity (none / 0) (#120)
by TheSleeper on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 02:37:52 AM EST

The difference is scarcity: The second case can only occur a relatively limited number of times, because it requires a human to actually play that character up to level 50 and then sell it off. And the newbie has to be willing to pay for a level 50 character.

But the first case can occur a virtually limitless number of times. Cheats are free to newbies, and don't require the involvement of a skilled player each time a newbie wants a level 50 character.

Yeah, if you happen to get abused by some newbie who has bought a level-50 character, it's no better than if you're abused by someone who attained level 50 by cheating. But the former case will be much rarer than the latter.

[ Parent ]

Online Chess (4.50 / 2) (#56)
by Kintanon on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:28:40 PM EST

Actually, quite a few of us still play online Chess, and regularly dominate people who are using ChessMaster 2002 or some equally inane program to give them moves. Because those computer programs are  all "good" or at best "Damn Good" chess players they make specific responses to your attacks. After the first game you KNOW the level of skill your opponent has and you know if you can beat them. So the only people left on Yahoo Chess are the "Real Damn Good" human players like myself, and the "Damn Good" cheaters.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

"Damn Good" cheaters? (3.00 / 1) (#86)
by jbridges on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 09:28:26 PM EST

What defines a "Damn Good" cheater?

Does it takes some kind of skill to run a copy of Fritz?

Or are you talking about people who write their own custom stuff?

Or just a hacked up copy of GNUChess?

Or just someone who plays the openings themselves, taking you out of book quickly?

[ Parent ]

Damn Good Cheater = (4.00 / 1) (#94)
by Kintanon on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 12:11:18 AM EST

Above the level of just firing up chess master in a second window and mirroring the moves. SOmeone who knows about Fritz in the first place would be a damn good cheater. Most of the cheaters are just gimps who run a copy of some lame chess prog in another window and feed it your moves, and feed you the response.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

cstrike accuracy (4.00 / 2) (#48)
by eudas on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 11:50:31 AM EST

pretty much with any weapon in cs, the first 1-2 shots are dead accurate across any distance. the problem as i see it is 1) pixel shooters who can hit a gnat's ass three football fields away and 2) no real ballistics model to introduce inaccuracy. they try to simulate inaccuracy using the firing patterns but that doesn't do anything for the first few shots, so you get people with ak47's out-sniping snipers because they don't have to worry about the slower movement rate of being scoped in, or the disorientation of the temporary switch from scope/eject cartridge/scope when you fire (awp/scout).

anyway, the guys who do the two-shot kills may be cheating, but i've seen way too many guys who are just that damned good at the game to instantly yell 'cheater!' anymore.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Just don't trust the client (4.00 / 1) (#51)
by tzanger on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:05:13 PM EST

Unfortunately, I just can't see how this could be stopped short of palladium.

you got a 3 from me for mentioning Palladium as a solution to this, because the Xbox has what I would certainly consider at least experimental palladium aspects to it. Palladium won't stop this, it's just a mask to hide that that sheep really is a wolf.

You just can't trust a client in the onling game world, that's all there is to it. As another poster said, give them all the info they want, but never trust a thing coming out of their software. Confirm kills with other clients. Maintain critical game structures in-server rather than trusting the client.

My immediate thought for your counterstrike example would be for the server to tell the client whether the shot hit or not. The player can auto-aim all they want, but the server's applying the -25% accuracy and telling all participants whether the shot hit or not, not getting a "I blew the fucker's head off!" packet from the cheater and believing it.

Yeah, the servers are going to need some balls, but hell that's the whole point, isn't it? To have a grand central authority in these matters? So they need an 8-way system instead of an SMP or 4-way. So they need 8G instead of 3G of memory -- it's one server, and if the game's any good it'll be money very well spent. Hardware's cheap in the long run.



[ Parent ]
not trusting the client doesn't work for cstrike (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by jonboy on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:42:43 PM EST

If you'll read my post, I said that I thought people will be able to get past Palladium eventually. However, an internet gaming system is exactly the situation palladium was designed for. Trusted clients. Trustworthy computing (as manifested in palladium) is not about me trusting my own computer, but instead is about other people trusting *my* computer. This is the problem with palladium. It is designed to restrict a user's freedom. However, in certain games, such as cstrike, you *have* to trust the client to a certain extent. That's what I was getting at in my post. This is the situation that palladium could possibly help with. As much as I don't like palladium, I have to acknowledge that.

Now, I'll explain *why* you have to trust the client in games such as cstrike. You seem to be talking about communications between the client and the server. In cstrike, and other similar games, you don't need to touch this traffic at all to cheat. You just need to look at it (and you possibly don't even have to do that). An aimbot interferes in the communications between the user and the client. Instead of the human imperfectly aiming their gun at their enemy, the aimbot takes over and moves the gun as efficiently as possible right to the enemy, then fires. If you can figure out a way short of palladium to stop this, I would be impressed. You just can't do it.

Another response to my post mentioned yahoo chess. As much as the yahoo chess client is untrusted, it doesn't matter if the user is sitting their putting all the moves into a computer chess program, and then making their moves based on that. They are cheating, but not even palladium would stop this one.

Untrusted clients work for a lot of stuff in terms of security, but not for games.
--
The above post is overrated.
[ Parent ]

I'll take both parts... (4.00 / 1) (#60)
by tzanger on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 01:38:54 PM EST

And use them to answer each other. :-)

In cstrike, and other similar games, you don't need to touch this traffic at all to cheat. You just need to look at it (and you possibly don't even have to do that). An aimbot interferes in the communications between the user and the client. Instead of the human imperfectly aiming their gun at their enemy, the aimbot takes over and moves the gun as efficiently as possible right to the enemy, then fires. If you can figure out a way short of palladium to stop this, I would be impressed. You just can't do it.

Palladium client -- attacker -- Palladium client

Attacker modifies the packets en-route to the other side. Until you use IPSec with AH (Authenticated Headers) or use your Attacker computer to fake out the other Palladium client (impersonate the trusted computer)

And that is where I was coming from with the CStrike reply -- you say "Fire!" and you send that command. The server figures out if you hit or miss, and tells everyone. I don't play online games, and I've never seen counterstrike, but the idea is that with the most inaccurate gun that you mentioned you will have an (arbitrary) 25% aim modifier to the shot. So even if you're aimed properly the server modifies the aiming and lets YOU know if you hit the target or not.

An aimbot will get you dead-on, but won't eliminate the gun inaccuracy. And even a human player is bound to be able to do a headshot from an inaccurate gun from across the field once in a (long) while, as it's not statistically impossible, only exceedingly unlikely.



[ Parent ]
still doesn't eliminate cheating... (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by jonboy on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 02:54:08 PM EST

It would certainly help to do the inaccuracy calculations server-side. However, an aimbot still has better reflexes than a human, so you could still cheat.
--
The above post is overrated.
[ Parent ]
I dunno (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by tzanger on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 03:14:16 PM EST

However, an aimbot still has better reflexes than a human, so you could still cheat.

I dunno; I figure positional info could also be handled server-side. Use the position/speed sending mentioned by someone else, but the client takes its position from the server... so if the aimbots turns on a dime and that's not possible in the game, it just doesn't happen.

I know, I know, the difference between theory and practise is that in theory, there is no difference between theory and practise... I'm just saying that in theory <g> it doesn't seem like much of a problem. :-)



[ Parent ]
Server has no way of knowing for sure (5.00 / 1) (#79)
by iasius on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 05:16:58 PM EST

The problem is this: Because the server can't really know if it is the user that turns around 180° and shoots the guy straight in the head or an aimbot it becomes impossible to ban all hackers and no fair players.

A lot of people who don't play a game much (talking about cstrike here) just don't know what is possible which IMO is sometimes times even worse than cheating itself.

If you see a good player you often cannot know for sure without lots of detailed study of his gameplay if he's hacking which of course makes competition on online sports about as useless as a box fight between a 100 kg heavy-weight boxer or a 70 kg light-weight, unless he's making it obvious of course, like shooting through a wall even if you couldn't hear anyone.
Side note: Lots of counterstrike players seem to be deaf.

My point is that programming something to identify an aimbot by the player's reactions alone would be really hard to do accurate without making the game unplayable for really good players. I don't think it's possible unless the hacker got careless ie the aimbot uses always the same speed to turn around or aim.

Cheat prevention is incredibly hard in real sports, in onlinegaming right now it's practically impossible without making a game not worth playing anymore.

In any case I don't understand the reason why so many gamers cheat so often in online games. I once tried a wallhack on counterstrike and once a maphack on Starcraft in large part to curiosity as to how they work for the player (helps a lot in identifying cheaters if you know how you handle an aimbot). Got bored real quick.
I've seen servers that kick you when you have a better ratio then 2:1. If you are better you got banned for a day. Yuo Think no cheaters would be on such a server? Wrong. They came on did their 15-0 (the ratio was first calculated at 15 kills ..) and got kicked.
Servers only for cheaters wouldn't work. Most cheaters want to "rule" the server. If they wanted fair competition they wouldn't cheat in the first place.


the internet troll is the pinnacle of human evolution - circletimessquare
[ Parent ]

aimbots (4.00 / 1) (#81)
by spacejack on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 06:34:24 PM EST

I know that there were some aimbot detectors written for Quake servers. Sometimes they'd think you were an aimbot if you managed to pull a quick 180 and rail someone. Both the aimbot writers and detection writers were probably constantly updating their software. The cheaters can also do things like leave the bot off most of the time, only using it on special occasions.

Then there are cheats like modifying the game's maps to see through the walls...

Stopping cheating against anonymous players is IMHO pretty much technically impossible unless you come up with a cheat-proof game design. Most games aren't.

[ Parent ]
counter strike (4.00 / 1) (#83)
by ebatsky on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 07:01:52 PM EST

Heh, you don't know how many times people like you accused me of being a cheater in counter strike simply because I happen to be a lot better than them (due to playing the game for a year almost daily).

Here's a hint: not everyone who kills you is a cheater.

Also, it isn't very hard to find a server that runs cheating death or something similar (I've been out of counter strike scene for a few months) that effectively eliminates all cheating.

[ Parent ]

i know (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by jonboy on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 10:34:46 PM EST

I know that some people are really good. But I've found that many people who play that well *are* cheating. I don't go around accusing people of cheating. What I do is just leave servers in which people kill me in suspicious ways.

The worst cheater I ever encountered actually lived on my floor last year at college. My friends and I played with him for months, and he would consistently trash us. We didn't want to accuse him of cheating because we weren't sure. Eventually we just decided that whether he truly is that good, or is cheating, it isn't fun to play with him, so we banned him. Also, we tried running anti-cheat software. He was still able to get on our server.

I can't say for sure that he was cheating, but when you hide behind a box, and someone who didn't see you hide behind the box runs straight for the box (ignoring other boxes that you've previously hid behind), jumps around the corner, and kills you mid-air, you have a pretty good idea something is wrong. Especially if this happens over and over again, regardless of which box on which level you hide behind. The guy *never* missed a shot. Everybody misses sometimes, even if your "that good."

ALl that being said, I haven't played counter-strike for months. I quit playing online because of rampant cheating (and yes, I played on cheating-death servers. I don't really like cheating-death because it kills the radar.) Lan games were the really fun way to play anyway, but my friend's don't play cstrike anymore.
--
The above post is overrated.
[ Parent ]

Players don't cheat. Cheaters don't play. (4.92 / 14) (#15)
by mdevney on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 10:04:36 PM EST

Games are all, in a certain sense, logic puzzles.  There are the rules to the game; your task, as a player, is to find a solution within those rules.  In fact, it's reasonable to say that the rules themselves *are* the game.

If you're playing chess, and you want to move your knight one square forward, you can do that.  Nothing's stopping you.  Pick it up and move it.  Why not?  Well, because that's not chess.  In chess, a knight can only move two squares one direction and one the opposite, in an L shape.  Any other move invalidates the whole game.  

So too in online games.  Sure, there are ways to cheat, and I suppose if you're into that sort of thing you can find a cheater server and play differently.  Hell when I play poker I prefer 7 card stud to 5 card.  The concept is the same: Alter the rules so that I look better.  But when I play within the rules.  Breaking them would miss the point entirely.  

I can honestly say that I've never cheated in any way at any online game.  (Though I have been kicked from a couple counter-strike servers.  Back when I played CS 10 hours a day, I was really good at it -- suspiciously good.)  I've toyed with the idea.  Why not use an aimbot?  Why not use a wallhack?  Well, why not sort through the deck and pull out all the aces too?  The two are no different.  

A cheater is not only cheating himself, he is cheating everyone else in the game.  For that matter, he's not really playing the game at all.

Too true.. (3.33 / 3) (#26)
by ajduk on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 04:42:00 AM EST

I was accused of cheating playing network Quake II for the same reason; being able to aim a railgun.  And strafe.

But the idea of actually cheating in online games; it's silly.  It's like being a spoiled brat who won't play with anyone unless they are allowed to win.


[ Parent ]

Unfortunately (4.00 / 2) (#28)
by bugmaster on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 06:51:10 AM EST

Unfortunately, the online world seems to consist 90% of such spoiled brats. It came as a major surprise to me; but the prevailing attitude seems to be "win by any means necessary", not "have good clean fun".

In a way, I can understand this mentality. Hackers see the game as well as the program that runs the game as a single entity; the rules of this combined game include things such as "you can't see through walls" (a weak rule) and "you can't modify the program counter register directly" (a strong rule). This makes for a much interesting game for the hackers, and for a boring, 100% guaranteed loss type of game for everyone else.

Perhaps the key to stopping cheating is to separate online game servers into two distinct areas -- "clean" games and "modified" games ? It might draw some of the hackers away from the rest of us... Of course, the spoiled brats who use the fruits of the hackers' labor will remain. There is not really any good solution to stopping them, that I know of. Maybe
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

Quake II aimbots... (4.00 / 2) (#55)
by Kintanon on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:18:23 PM EST

Back in Ye Olde Quake II: Rocket Arena days there was a specific aimbot with a bug in it. If you were standing above and behind the person using the aimbot it would start spinning them around for some reason. We used to find cheaters breakdancing in the middle of the level because someone happened to be standing in JUST the right spot. It was HILARIOUS beyond belief because the person with the aimbot would then start screaming about cheaters and someone haxoring him and stuff. We would then blow him away.

Ahh.... the good ol' days.

Did anyone ever play the Matrix mod for Quake II? That was too damn fun...

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

Just a myth (1.80 / 5) (#17)
by Lord Snott on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 10:37:19 PM EST

or even fabled "trolls",

...that right, nothing to see here, we don't... er, I mean they don't exist.

Move along.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This sig in violation of U.S. trademark
registration number 2,347,676.
Bummer :-(

How to fix... (4.50 / 6) (#19)
by xriso on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 11:06:08 PM EST

Design the game rules with this kind of thing in mind. There needs to be a strong server which is the barrier between what users can and can't do. Remember that the client could be bot-assisted.

The only way to prevent cheating is to make sure every possible client-server interaction is within the rules. Then there is no such thing as cheating.

Then again, this would make for peculiar results in some games. In FPSes, the physical models would have to be updated so that players cannot instantly change their aiming direction, but everyone would be expected to use auto-aimers anyway. But then, you would have movement bots that try to outguess the auto-aimers. It would almost become a battle of programs rather than players.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)

Well. (3.50 / 2) (#44)
by jmzero on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 10:39:39 AM EST

A game like EQ is precisely this kind of lock-step game (I believe), as is the forthcoming Sims Online.  Every action is mirrored on the server.  

No cheat should, thus, be able to make the player able to do something they normally couldn't.  However, they can still do cheats like displaying a map of nearby items/etc...  In an FPS, a cheat might be to make walls invisible.  It's much more difficult to stop these kinds of cheats.

You can't do anything you couldn't have done before, but the extra information makes it more likely you'll do the right thing.

The best fix I see is a honeypot.  Have a giant floor with a big prize at one end.  Have invisible traps on almost every space on the floor.  Make it like 15 minutes long.  Ban anyone who makes it to the end.

.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Honeypot (4.50 / 2) (#45)
by zaxus on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 11:31:12 AM EST

The honeypot would only work once. After that, cheaters would learn to recognize it, and purposely not get to the end. Then you have yet another arms race. (Sigh) This is one of the multitude of reasons that I don't play massively multiplayer games.

---
"If you loved me, you'd all kill yourselves today." - Spider Jerusalem, Transmetropolitan


[ Parent ]
Servers can avoid stuff, though (3.00 / 1) (#64)
by rantweasel on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 02:28:12 PM EST

for example, In an FPS, a cheat might be to make walls invisible.

Servers could simply not provide information about objects or opponents to clients unless the client is actually in a location to see them.  It should be fairly basic to figure out who can see what, and only pass that information to the client.  Invisible walls would do nothing in that case.  It does increase the load on the server, but not tremendously.

mathias

[ Parent ]

Hmmm (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by jmzero on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 03:17:44 PM EST

I was only trying to demostrate that the poster's statement...

The only way to prevent cheating is to make sure every possible client-server interaction is within the rules. Then there is no such thing as cheating.

...wasn't really correct.  I've been talking about "extra information" and automation cheats in other threads...
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Might not be possible (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by hardburn on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 03:24:11 PM EST

There are certain tricks that various 3D engines do to efficently render the scene. I've done a little mapping with the Half-life (read: hacked-up Quake) engine. Without going into too many details, the engine splits a scene into rectangles, and then those rectangles are split into triangles. The engine renders any portion of the map that is currently visible from the triangle the player is in. This cuts down the ammount of math necessary to figure out what parts are actually visible to the user. (This tutoiral goes into more detail and provides illustrations).

However, this is where things like wireframe modeling become useful to cheaters. The entire scene is being sent to the 3D accelerator, but it is up to the accelerator to only render the parts the user can actually see.

So it's all a tradeoff of giving up some security for being much, much faster.


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


[ Parent ]
Certainly possible (3.00 / 2) (#77)
by rantweasel on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 05:02:13 PM EST

If the client has a complete copy of the map, and only what volatile items (other players, power ups, etc) it can see, how can wireframe modelling find volatile items the client is unaware of?  I'm not talking about the actual rendering, I'm talking about the information that the server sends to the client.  The server would be slowed by having to calculate the list of visible volatile items for each player, but it would not be a major performance hit per player.  In all likelihood, only other players need to be blocked this way, lessening the performance hit.

mathias

[ Parent ]

And how do you figure out what is visible? (4.00 / 2) (#80)
by hardburn on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 05:49:46 PM EST

The server still has to figure out what is visible to a given client. We already know that the 3D engine on the client side has to do some clever tricks to keep things at a manageable speed. How would the server do it in a way that didn't suffer from the same problems as the client side? If doing it for one player is CPU-intensive, can you imagine what it would be like for 20?


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


[ Parent ]
Not meaning to be mean.... (none / 0) (#119)
by FieryTaco on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 11:22:56 PM EST

But you guys are lacking in a lot of clue. First, it takes quite a bit of computational power to create vis relationship tables. But it takes very little power to traverse those tables. That's the whole point of the things. It speeds up a whole bunch of crap, for example once you know what polygons may be visible from which regions of the game world, you only have to consider those polygons when rendering the scene for the player. Additionally this same information is used to compute what volatile information is sent to clients in online games. What kind of a retarded software developer wouldn't take advantage of that kind of bandwidth optimization?

The problem with see through the wall type cheats isn't that you get an omniscient view of the game, what you get is a the chance to see another player slightly before they could see you. So maybe you'll launch a rocket to meet them as they come around the corner. Or maybe you'll know that they are hiding behind that crate over there. It's auto aim, that recognizes when a player enters your vis space and does a 180 and shoots for you in less than a blink of an eye. Maybe it's that your assitance bot will turn on your shields when a projectile is about to hit you, but leaves them off other times in order to maximize your velocity/energy consumption/whatever.

As long as a game developer doesn't have absolute control of both ands and the connection in between these issues will arise in all online games and there is nothing that can be done about it. Let me repeat: there is nothing that can be done to stop cheating as long as you can't secure the computing device and communications channel with which I play your game.

The best that you can hope for is an ongoing arms race between the losers who feel a need to get their peer's admiration by any means possible, nefarious or otherwise. As a game developer I can analyze the types of cheats that are being used and figure out ways to detect them and prevent them/punish them. As a cheat developer I can figure out ways to exploit your game to my advantage.

[ Parent ]

Microsoft (4.00 / 9) (#20)
by DarkZero on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 11:13:18 PM EST

The Microsoft story deserved a lot more than a single paragraph in this story. It's not a clear cut issue of cheating versus not cheating. For the most part, I agree with Microsoft. You have the legal right to mod your X-Box and Microsoft cannot stop you, but Microsoft has the legal right to not sell X-Box Live to you and you cannot stop them. Freedom works both ways. If you're going to enjoy the benefits of a right, then you have to take the penalties put upon you by the rights of others.

The problem here is the timing. Microsoft waited until people had bought X-Boxes, modded them, and then bought X-Box Live to announce that they were banning people that had modded their X-Boxes. Maybe it was to get as much money out of them as possible before screwing them over, maybe it was to make the point that paying $50 up front for a service from Microsoft entitles you to ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, or maybe it was just an honest mistake that it got put off for so long, but no matter what the reason, it was wrong. There are lots of legitimate and legal reasons to mod an X-Box, including playing imports that you've paid full price for and simply unlocking all of the comptuer potential of your X-Box, so Microsoft screwed over a lot of loyal and legitimate customers in an effort to stop whatever small amount of people decided to have a mod chip installed because "I'm pretty sure they might have cheating programs some day for this, even though they don't now and don't expect to soon".

The action itself was very reasonable, but the timing of it did nothing but tell legitimate users that Microsoft can and will take their money and run whenever they want.

*buzz* Try again (4.25 / 4) (#40)
by Silent Chris on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 09:11:44 AM EST

That's a myth.

It was well known months ahead of time that Microsoft was going to do this.  Everyone within the mod community knew this -- we were all waiting for the day to come by.  Microsoft warned the media and included the information in the EULA, which you read before you ever log into MS's servers.  There is clearly no logical argument to stand on.

I disagree with the effects of mod chips, like everyone else.  MS is foolish to prevent me from modding my Xbox.  However, they have every right to prevent me from using a modded Xbox online.  It's a service, and they state the terms up front (akin to a "No shirt, no shoes, no service" sign on a diner).

[ Parent ]

Not Exactly (4.50 / 2) (#59)
by DarkZero on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:56:57 PM EST

It was well known months ahead of time that Microsoft was going to do this.  Everyone within the mod community knew this -- we were all waiting for the day to come by.  Microsoft warned the media and included the information in the EULA, which you read before you ever log into MS's servers.  There is clearly no logical argument to stand on.

From the article you linked:
Although Microsoft has said it will take legal action against any modifications that infringe on its intellectual property, a representative for the software giant said last month that Xbox Live, the upcoming online service for the console, would not be used to detect modified consoles.

This is exactly what I was getting at. The EULA, like all EULAs for absolutely anything, pretty much says "we reserve the right to steal your money, fuck your wife, and generally have our way with you". However, Microsoft not only did not make it clear that they would be banning people with modded XBoxes, but, as you've shown, repeatedly flip-flopped and acted vague on the issue.

Even as you go further into the article, when Microsoft starts to lean toward using the EULA against the people that have bought its software, they only go as far as saying that the XBox Live EULA "leaves the door open in order for us to protect the security of our platform". That's hardly a firm answer, especially when they said that they definitely wouldn't use it a month before that.

The people in the modding community were right to be paranoid and assume the worst, but Microsoft hardly made their intentions clear in their press releases. Even if the modding community wasn't fooled, the deception is still there on MS's part.

[ Parent ]

Did you *honestly* think (4.00 / 1) (#70)
by curien on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 03:15:53 PM EST

that Microsoft would let modded Xboxes onto Live? Really, what kind of morons do you think they are? "Oh please don't modify your Xbox -- but feel free to take your modded Xbox and use it on our servers!" Quit trying to play the victim; you're not one.

--
Murder your babies. -- R Mutt
[ Parent ]
Deception (3.00 / 1) (#96)
by DarkZero on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 03:35:14 AM EST

Just because you don't believe someone that lies to you doesn't mean that they're telling the truth. As I said, even if the modding community wasn't fooled, the deception was still there on MS's part.

[ Parent ]
You're misrepresenting the issue, I think (3.00 / 1) (#97)
by curien on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 08:12:04 AM EST

Unless you can find something, in writing, that has a Microsoft spokesperson saying that modded Xboxes will be allowed on XBox Live (this is not, mind you, the same as saying that they won't be using XBox Live to track modders) then you've got no cause to scream "liar". If you have such a statement, then Microsoft is almost certainly legally liable and should be faced with a class-action suit.


--
Murder your babies. -- R Mutt
[ Parent ]
Why did I write this much? (none / 0) (#109)
by fenix down on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 01:10:06 AM EST

In what universe would a major corporation go around issuing written statements promising specific policies for services that haven't even been created yet? For that matter, in what universe would those statements be legally binding? If you ordered Live with a contract that said "you can use it with mod chips" and you couldn't, I could see a suit lasting long enough to be crushed by MS in the courtroom, but press releases? What, did you sue Ford because they haven't come out with the nuclear-powered cars their brochures were talking about in the 50's?

He can scream liar all he wants. He thinks MS didn't warn people (beyond the fine print boilerplate) about the mod-banning in order to catch casual modders and teach them a lesson to help discourage the growth in modding going on right now. There's a certain ammount of evidence backing him up, too.

Modding is growing. Lik-Sang's sodderless chips (which MS sued the bajesus out of them over) made it easy for casual gamers to just plug one in without paying somebody or learning anything. The Xbox Linux stuff and the potential for independent, unlicensed games are making getting a mod chip attractive to a wider audience. MS doesn't like that. Once people have the chips, it makes it a whole lot easier for them to start pirating. Whether or not that actually happens, developers won't wanna port to the system with 80% of the units modded, and Xbox will die.

Same time, Live is coming out. MS decides to do an ambush and permenently block all modded boxes, which makes modding not worth it for about 90% of the people out there.

Wow, I just blew way the fuck off the topic there. What the fuck do I care about this? I don't have an Xbox. So long as Mario Kart keeps working, I don't plan on getting one, either. I could take a vacation to Europe with the money I'd spend getting Steel Battalion for christ's sake...

[ Parent ]

Finding deception where none exists (4.00 / 1) (#98)
by Silent Chris on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 08:43:47 AM EST

Hey, MS makes a lot of "planned mistakes" (saying they'll support one thing, then dropping it).  This doesn't appear to be one of them.  As the other poster mentioned, find a place anywhere, at any time (even a rumor) where Microsoft said they would support modded Xboxes on Live.

Yes, there is a dual standard here.  Clearly, MS is fighting primarily to keep mods off the streets.  However, they do have a point with gaming.  I don't want to play against people who have hacked their Xboxes for better play, higher score, etc.  I'll do that to my own Xbox on my own time, but I don't expect to be able to unleash it on the online world.  In that respect, "making online play fair" is wholly valid.

[ Parent ]

Alternative to Microsoft Servers (3.66 / 3) (#63)
by Elkor on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 02:06:29 PM EST

An article here talks about a free service at GameSpy.com that let's XBox users play for free (ad supported) or $20 (lifetime). Don't know if it supported modded boxes, or not

There's also a link to a Linux Gateway Server distribution that fits on a floppy that can boot a PC if you want to set up your own XBox network.

Regards,
Elkor


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
Bleh. (1.80 / 15) (#27)
by Trevor OLeary on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 04:56:40 AM EST

Firstly, if a cheater has put you off playing online games and maybe made you get some fresh air...you OWE the cheater. Particularly goddamn everquest.

Secondly, why should cheaters be punished for the poor system design by the game company? After all, it's like in star trek when james Kirk wins the test by cheating - cheating is a solution to a problem as good as any.


Oh really? (3.75 / 4) (#30)
by X-Nc on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 07:39:56 AM EST

> Secondly, why should cheaters be punished for
> the poor system design by the game company?

So all those virus/trojan writers shouldn't be punished just because MS can't build software? That is absurd. It is foolish to think this way. What's next? It's OK to shoot someone because the gun makers don't build locks into the guns?

--
Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.
[ Parent ]

Yes, yes. (1.50 / 6) (#31)
by Trevor OLeary on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 07:49:55 AM EST

So all those virus/trojan writers shouldn't be punished just because MS can't build software?

Yes. Because MS can't (or won't) build SECURE software (it's not hard!).  

What's next? It's OK to shoot someone because the gun makers don't build locks into the guns?

Yes. All guns have locks, one which didn't would be grossly deficient.


[ Parent ]

Ignorant, or troll? (3.33 / 3) (#33)
by mcherm on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 08:09:18 AM EST

You suggest that one "build SECURE software (it's not hard!)." I think this is ample evidence that you have never been involved in any part of building a secure OS. Because anyone who has tried to do so can explain that it's HARD!

-- Michael Chermside
[ Parent ]
Arrogant or troll-diagnostic? (2.00 / 5) (#35)
by Trevor OLeary on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 08:34:17 AM EST

Yeah, you disagree with me, so i'm a troll. That is a nicely self-fulfilling piece of mental logic...

Anyone can tell you that windows is less secure than linux. Given that microsoft has an army of serfs, and linux has hippies working in their spare time, I conclude that security is relative easy and not particularly interesting to microsoft. If they threw any fraction of their army of programmers at them then the security issues would go away.

Anyhow I'm not talking about OSes I'm talking about multiplayer game systems, so this discussion is kind of irrelevant...

And also I meant "not hard" as in: "if they spent 1% of their marketing budget on making the system secure then the problem could be fixed". Not as in: "I could code it with my arms tied behind my back". Given the amount of geeky dick-waving that goes on around here, I'm not surprised if you misunderstood me on that one.


[ Parent ]

windows is less secure (3.00 / 2) (#38)
by wiredog on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 08:50:46 AM EST

I'm not sure about that. It's less attacked by virus writers, but it has security holes too. And it only takes one widespread hole. Any system that isn't completely secure is completely insecure. No system is completely secure.

More Math! Less Pr0n! K5 For K5ers!
--Rusty

[ Parent ]
Army of serfs (2.00 / 2) (#43)
by {ice}blueplazma on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 10:28:52 AM EST

What the heck are you trying to say? It sounds like you're trying to say that the people who develop Linux are unskilled hippies. I would point out that just because someone doesn't work for an international corporation doesn't mean they're unskilled. Maybe its just that the people who work on the Linux kernel are dedicated and skilled, and care about what they're doing as opposed to the people that Microsoft has. Not to be rude, but could please clarify your post, cause that second paragraph doesn't make itself clear.

"Denise, I've been begging you for the kind of love that Donny and Smitty have, but you won't let me do it, not even once!"
--Jimmy Fallon
[ Parent ]
"it's not hard!" (3.00 / 2) (#34)
by Rezand on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 08:20:34 AM EST

Yes. Because MS can't (or won't) build SECURE software (it's not hard!).

This statement makes me realize just how many people have no clue what it takes to write complex software. Building secure software is extremely difficult, and companies spend millions of dollars on software security to no avail. It is a very hard problem.

[ Parent ]

Oh, really? (1.00 / 4) (#37)
by Trevor OLeary on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 08:39:41 AM EST

Is that why microsoft couldn't even be bothered to make macros NOT the default in express?

Anyway if microsoft spent millions on security it is STILL SPENDING WAY TOO LITTLE! It employs THOUSANDS...millions is fucking chickenfeed, man.

Also, check my other post to see clarify the meaning of "not hard"....


[ Parent ]

Clarification (3.33 / 3) (#39)
by Rezand on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 09:00:40 AM EST

This wasn't a defense of Microsoft, but just intended to offer a bit of a reality check on behalf of all software.

My apologies-- I don't have time (right now) to read through your posts to verify your point. I'm at work right now trying to make software more secure. Perhaps this evening.

[ Parent ]

Right on. (4.00 / 1) (#91)
by mindstrm on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 11:06:39 PM EST

Now go to Vegas, and apply your philosophy.. or better.. some "family" run basement casino in NYC.

Have fun explaining to them about your right to cheat, and how you are really doing them a favor.

CHeating is cheating. Yes, there are different severities of cheating, and all that really matters is how YOU feel about it.. but please, don't try to pretend you aren't cheating.

I, for instance, have cheated in various ways on online games, and it was fun. I don't for a minute pretend I had some RIGHT to cheat though.. grow up.


[ Parent ]

Computer games are a waste of time... (2.60 / 5) (#29)
by epcraig on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 07:06:07 AM EST

I figured I had the personality to get way too involved in computer games when I found my way out of a maze of twisty passages, all alike. This was soon followed by the rediscovery of food and sleep.

Despite intense temptation, I haven't played since. Except Go, of course.

But really, the blame for cheating must be laid at the feet of the designers, because they depended on people not modifying and using their own property to benefit their gameplay. If your processes run on my hardware, they're mine to tweak.


There is no EugeneFreeNet.org, there is an efn.org

Maybe... (3.00 / 1) (#52)
by Kintanon on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:09:22 PM EST

But remember, half of the processes run on THEIR hardware, so if that half decides that you are a cheating little shit and should be banned, regardless of whether you paid your 12.95 this month, then you're kinda SOL, eh?

Personally I don't see the amusement in playing if you are cheating. What's the point? I understand some types of cheating, such as writing bots that do the tasks for you because there is a level of skill involved in creating that. I like to write bots on MUDs that do things like quest or gain levels because of the challenge of creating the bot. But for games like Quake, WTF is the point of making yourself a floating, invincible, ghost, who can never miss? Isn't that kind of.... pointless?

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

There needs to be a middle ground. (4.00 / 2) (#36)
by corian on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 08:39:30 AM EST

Here's my attempt at a counter-point.

Now, I haven't played any of the specific games you mention, and I'm not much of an online gamer. I tend to play games off-line. And there's a specific type of games I like to play -- Flight Sims.

There's a tradition of editing flight sims -- redecorating planes, editing flight characteristics, adding/changing scenery, etc. It's mostly in good fun, and in a solo game it doesn't hurt anybody. Many companies provide this information to users (even Microsoft provides a "Flight Simulator SDK").

There was a certain flight sim (I won't name company names) which everyone wanted to get at. But apparently the "file structures" were used consistently across all games made by the same company. And though the developers of the flight sim claimed they wanted to release the information, the company wouldn't let them because giving users info how to modify the relevant files would inadvertently cause users of online games from that manufacturer to be able to cheat.

Like I said, what I do with my own game offline doesn't hurt anybody. Not everbody plays games online. If you try limit what people can do offline, people may begin to resent it. So there is a need for a middle ground.

More links for discussion would have been helpful (3.00 / 2) (#41)
by Silent Chris on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 09:18:04 AM EST

While I agree with you on cheating (I now own 2 Xboxes -- one modded and one new, for the purpose of playing online), I don't think the "freedom fighter" argument has been that strong in the community.  The overwhelming majority of players (outside those on sites like www.xboxhacker.net agree with the terms of service.  (Check out Penny Arcade and the boards at GameFaqs).  The consensus is "Yes, this sucks -- but it's their service.  Don't like it -- play somewhere else".

freedom is an easy concept- shame so few grasp it. (4.57 / 7) (#49)
by vmarks on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 11:59:44 AM EST

Freedom doesn't have to be a hard concept to grasp.

You have the freedom to do _nearly_ anything as long as you don't harm anyone else or their property.

So, these cheaters have the freedom to mod their xboxes all day long and develop their cheats, but their freedom _ends_ when they use them without permission on a game-server that doesn't belong to them.

That is probably the best argument you have against them- their use of cheats hasn't harmed you personally, or damaged your system like a virus would. However, they are doing the impermissable on a private server. They don't have that right.

If they wanted to run their own servers, or there were a publicly owned server, then this would be the environment where they could run such cheats.

Yes, MS and Sony should exercise better design to protect their server from misuse and abuse, but because you don't own their server, you don't have any say- it's up to MS and Sony to say what does and doesn't happen on their service.

Cheaters are exerting a right they simply do not have.

Freedom (3.66 / 3) (#58)
by anon868 on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:48:32 PM EST

"Your right to swing your fist ends where my face begins"
Open a window. No, not that one! One made from actual glass, set in an acual wall, you dork.
[ Parent ]
The Laws of the Game (4.50 / 4) (#50)
by jefu on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:00:32 PM EST

Cool thread.

It raises the interesting possibility of using such an online game as a small model for the way people interact with laws in real life.

In particular, there are a couple of points it might make it possible to study :

  • Do cheaters in the game also tend to be lawbreakers (I'm thinking of smallish things like speeding and other traffic offenses - not like murder) in real life? (Or the other way around.)
  • Are there "types" of people in the game with more or less predictable reactions toward interacting with the game with respect to its rules? (Cheaters, rule followers, those who cheat a bit but not much, those who cheat but insist everyone else follow the rules.)
  • How are the rules created and is there a relationship between the creation process and the ease with which they are circumvented?
  • To what extent are the rules in such a game a voluntary "social contract" and to what extent are they imposed by a force perceived to be external and out of the players control? Would the players behave differently if they had more control over the rules?
  • Suppose two games were created with otherwise identical rules - one for the rule followers and one for the "cheaters". Would the cheaters self-segregate? (Also, what would the rules for the cheater's game actually be?)
  • Suppose that the game itself had rules about what the cheaters might do with associated actions (which might be effectively penalties - ferinstance "travel faster than light can result in the traveller being teleported to a random position in the universe."). How would this change the behavior of those who might otherwise cheat? (Of course there's a hidden question here - how long would it take them, or others, to find ways to exploit the penalties?)
  • Given a game with published rules (the ones given in the official description of the game) and hidden rules (imposed by technology, restrictions of the client and the like) how long does it take for players to understand the hidden rules and how good is that understanding?

personal comment The prospect terrifies me, but I'm beginning to think I need to find a place where I can do some decent studies in anthropology/sociology/psychology just to have a better framework for questions like these - which I find myself asking more and more frequently.

cool thread and post (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by eudas on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 01:54:03 PM EST

"Do cheaters in the game also tend to be lawbreakers (I'm thinking of smallish things like speeding and other traffic offenses - not like murder) in real life? (Or the other way around.) "

No, but they do tend to be remarkably selfish people. The stereotype of the 15-year-old teen male using hacks to frag people in counterstrike is fairly accurate in my experience (though they may not always be 15...); it's fun for THEM, and they don't care about whether it's fun for anybody else.  if you bitch about them cheating, or do something so they can't cheat, then youre raining on THEIR parade. In their eyes, it's all about THEM.

"Are there "types" of people in the game with more or less predictable reactions toward interacting with the game with respect to its rules? (Cheaters, rule followers, those who cheat a bit but not much, those who cheat but insist everyone else follow the rules.) "

Yes. You have the whole D&D spectrum of Chaotic Evil to Lawful Good. I can recall many entire series' of MUD political strife caused by differences of opinion based on people who had very different outlooks in extremely simple issues.

The amusing thing is that the people who play the games for the enjoyment of the games are retreating back into SP (single player) for their guaranteed environments. In the middle are the people who still play MP (Multi Player) but in secluded environments like small group servers or only with friends. And then there are the full-MP'ers, who are currently driving the gaming market to the extent that MP-only games are coming out more and more often. Sadly, no game is safe from the Million Monkeys Effect (MME). They all get h4x0r3d.

"How are the rules created and is there a relationship between the creation process and the ease with which they are circumvented? "

It depends on the administrators of the game, mostly. Some rules are hard-coded into the game by the game creators, but many more rules are created by game administrators to promote an enjoyable environment for as many people as possible. Unfortunately, many administrators 1) start making rules rather arbitrarily as the issues present themselves, 2) become enamoured of their own power and influence (made worse by people who suck up to them to be on their good side), and as a side effect 3) rarely go back and revise their rulesets to accomodate a changing environment (out of arrogance, or fear of appearing to be a weak ruler, or both).

Socially created rules rely upon the society to enforce them. Ultimately this falls to the Administrators, since they have the power to kick/ban players. Of course, for persons determined to cheat or ruin the experience for the other players, there are various ways to circumvent the Administrators' power, and this can end up destroying the environment and poisoning it.

technical rules help out since they are much more difficult to overcome, but again, the truly dedicated will find a way. (the million monkeys effect again.)

"To what extent are the rules in such a game a voluntary "social contract" and to what extent are they imposed by a force perceived to be external and out of the players control? Would the players behave differently if they had more control over the rules? "

Amongst the people I play with, they are almost completely a social contract. In Counterstrike, I play with people who have known each other for some time and so a close-knit network forms of people who are (relatively speaking) quite certain as to the cheat status of each other. In NWN, we play mostly with Friends or on LAN parties (where you can physically thump cheaters, not that there's much point to cheating in NWN anyway). So the answer to your question is that in the higher-level (quality-wise) gaming groups, most players would not behave differently with respect to cheating because they are mature enough to realize that cheating would invalidate the point of playing the game in the first place.

"Suppose two games were created with otherwise identical rules - one for the rule followers and one for the "cheaters". Would the cheaters self-segregate? (Also, what would the rules for the cheater's game actually be?) "

The rule followers would mostly segregate themselves, however, the cheaters would not. There are quite a few cheaters who are completely bored with a game, and get their enjoyment by ruining the experience of others by using cheats. (kind of like using god mode in SP games, except more fun because you're pissing off other people instead of just killing mindless pixels.) these people would therefore infiltrate the non-cheater servers and ruin them as well. (because well, what's the point of using cheats against other cheaters? then the playing field is level again.)

"Suppose that the game itself had rules about what the cheaters might do with associated actions (which might be effectively penalties - ferinstance "travel faster than light can result in the traveller being teleported to a random position in the universe."). How would this change the behavior of those who might otherwise cheat? (Of course there's a hidden question here - how long would it take them, or others, to find ways to exploit the penalties?) "

It's not a bug, it's a feature! :)

Seriously, though, a game requires very tight design to contain rulesets that are not exploitable. the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid) must be obeyed quite strongly to avoid rule conflict (and the accompanying meta-rules to handle rule conflict resolution).

The answer to how long would it take them to find ways to exploit the penalties: hardly any time at all. Humans are adaptable, after all. Someone somewhere would find a use for it.

"Given a game with published rules (the ones given in the official description of the game) and hidden rules (imposed by technology, restrictions of the client and the like) how long does it take for players to understand the hidden rules and how good is that understanding?"

It depends on the players, how much they play, how intelligent they are at interpreting patterns and indirect data, ... etc. But in general the best players figure it out more quickly. Over time, the best and midlevel players tend to figure these things out (kind of like The Matrix -- they figure out the game engine/reality, and then use that knowledge to work within and without the framework) but the lower level players don't always graduate to the next level of knowledge. Most people that stick with it figure it out though.

Amongst the primier players of a game, their understanding of the engine, rulesets, and hidden consequences can rival and even exceed that of the game designers. (Players often interact with things inside the game that are unintended consequences of decisions that designers made that they didn't think of at the time.)

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

The Matrix (3.00 / 1) (#68)
by hardburn on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 02:55:37 PM EST

kind of like The Matrix -- they figure out the game engine/reality, and then use that knowledge to work within and without the framework

It took me until your comment to realize that these "resistance fighters" are really a bunch of n00b cheaters. Basterds. Ban them all.

:)


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


[ Parent ]
resistance fighters (none / 0) (#74)
by eudas on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 04:16:59 PM EST

"resistance fighters" are not usually newbie cheaters, although membership in one group does not necessarily preclude membership in the other.

i think that usually "resistance fighters" are people on the very fringe of the spectrum -- either the people who are very very sucky at games and can't be bothered to get any real skill at them to beat them, or else they are people who are total gamers and defeat the games in no time flat, and who then turn to mods and cheating as a way to get what they feel is the rest of their money's worth out of the game.

of course, there is the group that you describe -- "newbie cheaters" -- who frequently take up the mantra of the "resistance fighters" so as to appear as a slightly less pathetic soul than what they really are.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Section them off (4.00 / 3) (#54)
by hardburn on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:13:52 PM EST

There should be a way to let everybody play the way they want to. Keep a seperate game world or server that is specially made for cheaters. Finding and exploiting game loopholes can be almost a game unto itself, so we can allow it to happen while keeping the main game clean.

Back when I played a lot of CS my favorite server had a very strict policy about cheating. The server would scan your hard drive looking for cheats. If it found one, your IP address and WON ID (a unique ID to all CS players based on your CD key) were both banned. If you were caught trying to sneak in with your freind's WON ID, that one was banned, too. Forever. No exceptions. Zero tolerance. Doesn't matter if the cheat is activated or not, only that it exists on your hard drive. Further, because of the nature of Windows programs leaving trails of data everywhere, the only sure way to get rid of a cheat was to format your hard drive and reinstall.

This server has remarkable voulneteer administrators (a few of which are personal freinds of mine), but whenever I see a "zero tolerance" policy for anything, I get this little warning siren at the back of my mind.

There are CS servers where cheating is explicitly allowed. Let the cheaters have their playground. I might join them if I'm feeling board one day. However, there certainly should be strong rules about cheating outside the playground.


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


cost/benefit ratio is in cheater's favor (4.50 / 2) (#65)
by DoctorDoom on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 02:29:16 PM EST

I think the main cause is that there is no accountability, and no real penalty for cheating (another posted mentioned this first). Designing client/server comm from the ground up, never trusting the client, all the other technical solutions are just that... technical solutions... for a social problem.

I don't think the penalty for cheating is quite enough, as currently it just gets the cheating account banned. I can almost hear the cheaters saying boo hoo (as if they really cared about playing the game in the first place?). I would go a step further and apply some sort of extra charge to their account if they are caught cheating. The company would ahve to be sure the player was cheating, as in they have an impossible amount of gold or something, and they didn't report a bug in the program.

Of course, the game developer still wants everyone to play their game, cheaters and non-cheaters alike, so I think having a separate "cheater's zone" would allow both to exist. On the cheating zone anything goes. The hackers can try out their hacks, the developers can learn from the hackers. Players can play in a separate server and everyone can realize hacking isn't allowed in that space. If you do, it costs you extra.

Of course, I dunno about the legality of a corporation imposing this kind of fine on a person. Heck a fine might not even work. But I don't think a technical solution will accomplish the goal because it will just start an arms race between cheaters and developers. To be effective, the cost of cheating has to be increased so that the cost/reward ratio makes it not worth it.
DoctorDoom

gamers (none / 0) (#100)
by eudas on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 12:49:40 PM EST

at what point does it go from being a "fine" to simply being "pay-for-amped-stats"? there's lots of money to be made in that, but as i've seen on many MUDs, the players (gaming purist variants) who don't want to pay to be able to compete with cheaters (gaming pay-for-powermongers) get quite upset about the mixed environment and what they perceive as badly implemented favoritism (the favoritism being visited upon the people who pay by the people who run the game).

mixed environments between cheaters and non-cheaters just don't work. period.

the only way to make things work for non-cheaters is to make sure that nobody is cheating, and the only way to do this is to engender a society where cheating is discouraged to the point where it's nigh-unthinkable. many close-knit gaming groups are like this. massive online games make the circle too large, though, so cheaters start slipping between the cracks of the social net and begin poisoning the environment for everybody.

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

Gazelles can outrun chipmunks (4.66 / 3) (#66)
by dagg on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 02:43:49 PM EST

Without safeguards in place, everyone will eventually cheat. It is quite simply human nature. One might even say it is the nature of all beasts on earth. How does evolution work? Nature found a away to give a gazelle faster speed than a chipmunk. Those cheating gazelle's suck.

In the minds of the online cheaters... they are gazelles beating chipmunks in speed races. They think they are evolutionarily more adept at online gaming than the schmucks that are stuck with the genes that nature (or the "company") gave them.

If online gaming was real life, than that would be acceptable behavior. But it is not real life, it is a game. Those who play games are trying to master specific abilities while having a little fun. Baseball players are learning to bat, catch, and run; boxers are learning to punch, evade, and outlast.

Who stops baseball players from punching their opponents? The umpire. If you break the rules, you can't play anymore. If you want to punch your opponents, go play somewhere else.


--
Find Yer Sex Gateway
Not my nature (4.00 / 2) (#73)
by Atomic Eco on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 03:54:57 PM EST

I have never, ever cheated in an online game. I play for the fair challenge, by the rules of the game, against others who recognize and obey the same rules. What meager satisfaction cheaters get from their pathetic victories I do not want any part of. I prefer my online victories untainted by my own feelings of inadequacy.

Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate. Henry David Thoreau (1817-62)

Finland.. where polar bears roam the streets.
[ Parent ]

It's a bit complicated (4.66 / 3) (#78)
by merkri on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 05:09:46 PM EST

Here's my thoughts about this, for whatever they might be worth:

(1) I gave up at least one game for a while because I got fed up with cheating. Cheating is infuriating, and it does ruin the game for everyone.

(2) Given that, I still think it's important to point out that I never stopped playing with known friends on closed servers.

(3) As some point out, there's few reasons not to design a game with online security in mind from the beginning. It can be done.

(4) It's also important to remember that there's a difference between banning everyone who, e.g., mods their Xbox, and those who exhibit evidence of cheating. Modding your Xbox is not cheating, although it could be used for that. The problem isn't MS trying to curb cheaters, it's MS trying to eliminate those who want to customize their system. Those are entirely two different things, and not recognizing that is what bothers me. The fact that it's consistent with other behaviors on the part of MS bothers me more so.

    I realize that to play these things I would be renting services, and in some sense I can't complain. But that's merely shifting the problem. Whether or not something can be done is different from whether or not it should be done.
    The article makes an interesting point. However, I resent the way that it's framed in some ways. There seems to be some tacit assumption that "freedom" means cheating, when that's clearly not the case. Sometimes "freedom" means freedom, and nothing more. I think it's dangerous to start assuming that "different" means "wrong", and especially to do so when there's money to be made  in doing so.

Whine whine whine (1.25 / 8) (#82)
by ebatsky on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 06:47:00 PM EST

Oh NO! Someone is using showeq and I can't because I am too stupid to set it up myself so they may have a slightly higher dexterity due to an item they've gained which will improve their character by 0.01%!

Look inside yourself and you will see that such hatred towards what you call 'cheaters' is driven purely by jealousy and greed.

When people cheat and their actions hurt you (and I mean really hurt you, such as you lose your character due to it being hacked, not just imaginary wounds you've acquired due to not having as many pretty pixelated items as them), then a case can be made that such behavior is wrong. I don't know about phantasy online so I can't comment on that, but in case of showeq in particular, your words fall on deaf ears.

Oh and no, I don't play EQ (because it is TEH DEVIL) and neither have I used showeq when I briefly touched the evil that is EQ.

2 points (4.00 / 1) (#90)
by mindstrm on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 11:02:50 PM EST

Firstly... why is it jealousy and greed to find out that others aren't playing by the rules?

Secondly, I believe the original article was prompted by people whining about how the company is being UNFAIR by trying to fight cheating.

[ Parent ]

Jealousy and Hatred (none / 0) (#107)
by acheon on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 08:06:03 PM EST

I'm playing -- at used to play up to last week -- Starcraft on Battle.net a lot. There your speech would fall on deaf ears.

Jealousy and greed are the motives of the *cheaters*, not the normal players. Cheating is used as punitive actions against decent players a lot, may it be by dropping them once they're sure to win, disconnecting them from Battle.net perpetually once they have won, and so on. Hacks are also used merely for increasing stats at the expense of other players. Although I don't give a fuck about my stats, I do care if I'm being hacked -- or my allies are -- in most games merely to allow suckers to have their precious wins.

And I'm not talking about abuse of bugs for scouting, hacks revealing the entire map (games being won by stupid 2 mins rushes because of that), and the lag it causes -- since hackers are by far the worst laggers.

What is most pathetic is that Blizzard is by far the leading player when it comes to make bug-free games. But even then cheating and hacking is rampant.

I think the ratio of decent games I played this year is about 1/50. I give up. When skill becomes a criterion for winning again we'll see.

[ Parent ]

I gave up playing online games... (none / 0) (#115)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 11:53:09 AM EST

Mostly cheaters and lamers. Lamers are a level up from cheaters but not much better. They usually have names with "newbie" in them although they play at expert levels. They basically join newbie games so they can boost their egos and their stats. I would say that 95% of online gamers are either cheaters or lamers.

[ Parent ]
Isn't there room for all? (4.50 / 2) (#84)
by MalTheElder on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 07:56:49 PM EST

K5ers,

Seems to me that there's no glory in 'enhanced' players clobbering those without mods.  I could slap a 10hp engine on a bicycle frame and clean up on Lance Armstrong in the 2003 Tour de Fr/Lance, but that doesn't mean I'm a better cyclist.

Instead of an unwinnable, forever war between Sony (and any other game mfrs.) and the modders, just have separate sections for stock, mixed, and modded players.  Check the client used to see where it fits.  Stock clients can play in either stock-only or mixed-by-choice games; mods in mods-only or mixed-by-choice.  And ban jerks who don't cooperate.  Choice is what it's about, isn't it?

Everyone wins, except kiddies with small egos who have to bushwhack the unsuspecting to make themselves feel as if they have a pair.  And everyone knows exactly what kind of competition they'll be facing.  A test of skill, after all, should be a test of skill and not code.

Let me confess I don't game --- it bores me.  But I watch my kid game online a lot.  He runs stock clients and any number of cheats, depending.  He and his buds generally use the scheme I described among themselves, and pretty well nuke those who break those norms.  They agree to play with no cheats, everyone cheats, or at your own risk.  And these guys are in middle school, for Pete's sake.

Bottom line:  I tend to agree with the original poster.  Don't bring your modded tools into stock games; build your own sandboxes and play with others like yourselves.  Especially if you're paying money to play --- I wouldn't want my game trashed by modded clients or cheats either.  Guys on minibikes don't get to race against bicycles, either.  So sort it out and set up playgrounds for everyone!  Gamers win; companies win.  Even middle school kids can work that out.  No huhu.

Happy Monday,
  Chuck


Unimplementable (5.00 / 1) (#95)
by ewhac on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 02:55:23 AM EST

Instead of an unwinnable, forever war between Sony (and any other game mfrs.) and the modders, just have separate sections for stock, mixed, and modded players. Check the client used to see where it fits. Stock clients can play in either stock-only or mixed-by-choice games; mods in mods-only or mixed-by-choice. And ban jerks who don't cooperate. Choice is what it's about, isn't it?

Your suggestion is laudable, but unimplementable so long as the "trusted client" model continues to be employed by online game designers.

The whole point of building a modified client is so that it will appear as an unmodified client. Therefore, bouncing users with modded clients won't really work, since they're designed to be undetectable. There is nothing you can do to detect a modified client, since the user's machine can simply be programmed to give the correct response, no matter what the interrogation. Public key crypto won't save you, encrypted binaries won't save you, server-side authentication (mostly) won't save you.

The only thing that will save you is to haul all the "important" code over to the (trusted) server, and leave nothing on the client except rendering code. If another player isn't in front of the user, don't transmit that player's coordinates. Attack commands coming in from the client too fast? Ignore them.

As for banning users, what exactly do you ban? Their account? They'll make another one. Their IP address? Perhaps you never heard of DHCP. Their "unique" client ID? Very funny; client ID generators are freely available. Their credit card number? Ah, now you might be getting somewhere...

And you're also failing to consider the guy who has opened two accounts; one for playing legitimately, and one for "augmented" play. If/when you detect the modified client, do you ban both accounts?

The problem is far thornier than it first appears.

Schwab
---
Editor, A1-AAA AmeriCaptions. Priest, Internet Oracle.
[ Parent ]

Banning by credit card (none / 0) (#117)
by hardburn on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 12:10:09 PM EST

As for banning users, what exactly do you ban? Their account? They'll make another one. Their IP address? Perhaps you never heard of DHCP. Their "unique" client ID? Very funny; client ID generators are freely available. Their credit card number? Ah, now you might be getting somewhere...

At first, I thought this might work. Then I remembered a new scheme that gives you a one-time credit card number. That is, you get your new credit card number from the company, buy something with it, and then never use that number again. For billing purposes, the company you have the card through can keep track of who had what number and made what purchase with that number. However, for the scheme to work properly, that information can never leave the company database.

One-time credit card nums are a good idea if implemented properly, but they'll break your method of banning. Cheaters will just put in their new credit card number, and the server will never know the difference because there is no obvious relation between this number and the last one they used. If there is a noticable relation, then the one-time number scheme is broken.

Not many people are using this scheme yet, but you'll probably see it a lot more in the future.


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


[ Parent ]
Freedom to cheat? (3.50 / 2) (#88)
by der on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 10:15:47 PM EST

Whatever. Yeah, they have the "freedom" to cheat I suppose. Go run your own f#ck!ng server specifically for cheaters and you can compare the skill of script writers all day long.

God, I hate cheaters. People who actually cheat at competitive online games are pathetic pieces of useless shit.

Yep, it's just a game, and yep, I don't really care all that much. But it's still annoying, and they're still pathetic pieces of useless shit. :)



Counter-strike (2.00 / 2) (#93)
by auraslip on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 11:54:45 PM EST

The people who talk about how "freedoms" ruin games because it allows people to cheat piss me off. If it wasn't for this "freedom" counter strike(or any other mod) wouldn't even exist.

Secondly, I've cheated in CS(only for about an hour), and I'm positive I didn't ruin anyones game. If you haven't tried to hack, I suggest you try it. It will help you find "real" hackers.

124

I never liked Counter Strike... (none / 0) (#114)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 11:45:36 AM EST

but I knew a lot of people that played it when I was in college and I can very much guarantee you that no-one liked a cheater. Most people don't cheat and those people want a level playing field and a place where they can go where they know it'll be a level playing field. Auto-aiming and being able to look through walls ruin the whole spirit of the game. Suddenly any head shot or lucky stray bullet that happens to pass through a wall is a cause for disintegration. Then you just get accusations and now nobody's having any fun. But that's OK because the cheater got his ego trip. Yeah. Screw you.

[ Parent ]
Cheating is like a sportscar (3.00 / 1) (#103)
by exZERO on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 02:49:40 PM EST

It's usually used to make up for when someone is lacking in another department.

In the case of cheating, its SKILL.  I work hard on games(online and off), and I play through trying to be perfected, leveled up, and as mastered in the game as possible.  If you need to create or use someone else's tools to enhance your character in order to advance, thats a lack of skill, pure and simple.

Modding is something else entirely though.  Counter-Strike isn't a cheat and isn't something that wouldn't have come along eventually on its own, sans hacking into the game.  Changing your playstyle, rewriting the game offline so it doesn't affect the other players, thats not what Talez and others on this thread are talking about under "Freedom".  Thats fine and all good, but when you are simply cheating to give yourself an advantage, not a new style of game, then you are ruining the game for others.

Hopefully, with the newer consoles going online, this won't happen as much, but sadly, you just know it will eventually.
<<Zero_out>>

Palladium (none / 0) (#111)
by Paul Johnson on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 07:20:51 AM EST

I know that many potential uses of Palladium are evil, but this is one area where it might be welcome. Other posters have explained how a game server can never completely trust the client, but with Palladium it could:
  • Only clients signed by the games vendor could connect.
  • Packets between client and server would be encrypted, preventing a third program from sniffing packet information.
  • Buggy clients with exploitable holes could be disabled, requiring players to download a fixed version.

Problem solved.

Of course there is the problem that you will be having to run a signed version of the OS, and that will cost extra (see the Palladium FAQ referenced above for details). That makes it trickier to run such a client on Linux, for example.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

Agreed, but... (none / 0) (#112)
by ksandstr on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 08:35:32 AM EST

I do agree that when you're playing a game, cheating is considered dishonorable. Just like kicking the pitcher in the head in baseball. But I don't think that the cries for "freedom" that you're describing with such venom would be, for the most part, cries for "freedom to cheat". AFAIR, the X-box anti-cheating thing works by checking for a mod-chip and then banning the player not only from the servers (which I think is a bit overkill -- a ban for 48 hours or something like that would be more appropriate) but also from any upgrade services that microsoft might make available over the 'net in the future. Considering that there are mod-chips that can be turned off with a physical switch, this "anti-cheating" crusade is really all about a crusade against mod-chips in general.

So it's more about the ability and right to hack your game system so that you can boot your own software, including game backups and the linux distribution for the x-box. This is my story and I'm sticking with it.



Fin.
I Don't Want Your Freedom | 120 comments (111 topical, 9 editorial, 1 hidden)
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