This has happened on multiple occasions with Blizzard:
Of course, although Blizzards initial response was to claim that the users cheated and were lying, they did eventually fix the problem the first time (although IIRC they never reversed all of the bans for the very first WoW Wine ban wave.) Now they have a bit more experience with the issue so it seems it is getting more attention.
However with EA I don’t really have utmost confidence they will pay any attention to this, so I’d guess it’s time to get loud if you want any hope of this being fixed.
Sure, but I don't see a good alternative. Cheating is a real problem and will quickly destroy your online community (see other comments in this thread). Sacrificing a small percent of your playerbase in the name of having a functioning online system at all seems like a reasonable solution to me. It's unfortunate that it is necessary, but people are jerks.
Allow users to votekick and voteban. Provide the server software for players to host their own servers and provide their own solutions to these problems.
These are tools and approaches that we had in past games and while they are not perfect, they are better than these black box invasive anticheat solutions born from a desire to avoid giving community control to users.
>Sacrificing a small percent of your playerbase in the name of having a functioning online system at all seems like a reasonable solution to me
Only if you provide a robust and empowered support staff to quickly unban and resolve false positives. That is, actually take responsibility, which is something game developers and major publishers seem allergic to.
I think this happens way more than people realize. A great example is League of Legends, which is known for its toxic community.
They throw you in a game with 4 other people. If 1 of them decides to be an asshole you're stuck for a minimum of 20 minutes + the 10 it took for queue + lobby. So you're FORCED to stay in this game for 30 minutes because you got an asshole teammate.
Imagine playing a game of pickup basketball where one of your teammates started scoring for the other team and you were forced to continue playing the game out rather than simply leaving. Of course your community is frustrated.
And the response anytime people ask for changes to help with the situation is that they can't because someone might abuse it to save their rank.
If it were me, I'd create a system where you get free games and treat it like a currency. If someone is being an asshole, just turn in your token, you leave the game unpunished and you get to flag the player(s) that caused you to do it.
I stopped playing the game because of the completely lack of control over your own destiny.
The issue there is that the game has 10 players in it.
Say you have only 3 "leave" tokens per month. That's small and will probably only slightly address the issue.
If the average player plays 30 games a month, they can leave up to 10% of their games.
And if someone uses this "leave" token, can you really punish the other players for not wanting to play a broken match? You can't require them to burn their own leave token. So it's one leave token, and everyone can leave.
If 10 players leave 10% of their games... then on average, there's one missing person per game. And most of those games will simply end.
Then, when you have 5 losing players, they have 15 tokens between them per month. With 30 games a month, your players can leave very roughly half the games.
Matchmaking aims for 50/50 win/lose.
You could literally just leave every losing game. And the other team would do this if you were winning.
You would only really get a few serious games toward the end of the month when all 5 or 10 people happen to run out of coins.
This system would actually probably just make people scream death threats at their own teammates for doing too well because the only proper way to win a game would be to eke it out at the last second.
In other words, the toxicity is built in to MOBA gameplay inherently and can only be suppressed.
In chess you'll see one player or the other reach over and lay their king over. It's an admission that, while the game isn't technically done, it's unwinnnable. So out of respect for time they simply acknowledge the loss and move on.
If, as you say, most losses see someone use a token, great! That's the point. They use the token, everyone leaves the game. It's done. The winners win, the losers lose.
Now imagine that you're playing and you're winning, but you're an asshole because you're smurfing. One of your teammates tosses out his token, you lose. Now also imagine this keeps happening because you're an asshole. It incentivizes you to stop being an asshole.
Imagine you're playing and 10 minutes in one of your teammates disconnects. Lets assume they're in a storm and the electricity went out. at minute 12, you use your token and move on. You weren't forced to play out a 30-40 minute game. You just moved on.
Imagine that game where your team is literally dying once/minute at minute ten. You just use your token and move on.
The only real counter-argument to this is that it might affect people's ranks. People will have losses they may have otherwise won. Or wins that they might otherwise have lost.
This is true.
Do you know what else is true?
The game is riddled with smurfs. People will win or lose games by just being matched with a smurf.
The game has autofill. For those not aware, autofill means the game forces you to play a position you don't normally play. People will win or lose games due to nothing more than an algorithm making a decision.
The game has streamers who specialize in "bronze to challenger" streams. The people in those games will win or lose due to nothing more than matchmaking.
These are all basically random chance, and what they do is make the error in the ELO system larger. Riot enforces autofill in the interests of short queues. It explicitly allows smurfs and streamers in the interests of marketing.
So Riot has already accepted the random wins and losses.
The question is, can we do it in a way that decreases player tension. The answer is yes.
This isn't about creating a perfect system. This is about the fact that the game currently has a ton of variability from imperfections due to Riot making compromises. The question is how can do it while giving the players more agency over themselves?
And I haven't even spoken about how BAD riot's matchmaking is. It's seriously bad.
I remember a game I had where I was forced bot lane by myself because my support never connected. For those not familiar with the game, this means I was playing in a 1v2.
And I got huge. I took over the game. And not because the opponents went diving under my turret (note: turrets will damage the opponent), but because I just straight up punished them for positioning mistakes and killed them. I legitimately pulled a double kill with first blood in a 1v2 with no jungler help.
In postgame chat, someone on the other team asked me if I was a smurf. Technically no, but I sure as hell was smurfing in that game. Riot's matchmaking should NEVER have placed me in that game.
The fact that it does adds even MORE variability. It gives more random wins and losses to players. It increases the error rate of ELO in the game.
The community has a common sentiment: 80% of the games you play you have no agency in whether you win or lose. You just have to accept it and move on. But 20% of the games you do have an effect and to climb you need to be more consistent so that you're winning in that 20%.
The point is this: The issues of uncontrolled wins and losses already exist in the current system. It's just you're also forced to stay in a game for another 20-30 minutes, and that just increases everyones frustration.
No. The difference between chess and and MOBA is it's 1v1 instead of 5v5.
The counter argument I'm implying here is that nearly every game would go like this:
-Lane phase begins
-Top laner dies at level 2
-Top laner tries to get revenge at level 3, dies again.
-Top laner unilaterally spends the token to jump into another game. It's game over. You spent 15 minutes getting a game together, and 5 minutes loading the game, and 3 minutes for the boring part of gameplay to start, so that you could experience 2 minutes of the boring part of gameplay. That will be every game. It's already a decent amount of games with the punishment.
Cheaters quickly got banned from the public servers and people who stuck with the community could enjoy the private server where they knew there'd be a good group of people and usually very little toxicity.
Ranked Ladder, PUG Teams, PVP, and especially "griefing mechanics" related to losses for the loser from the stakes can all cumulatively contribute to toxicity.
The bigger problem now are f2p games were cheaters don’t have to re purchase a game after getting banned.
First, I think these systems ignore technical realities, and design has to pay attention to real-world constraints. Blocking cheaters is insanely hard, and almost no real-time games that I know of do it at what I believe is an acceptable level.
It's a nice idea that I don't think is technically supported, in the same way that it would be a nice idea if my photorealistic MMO didn't have loading screens anywhere and loaded everything instantly. It's not good design to spend a bunch of effort hinging your game design on something that's not technically possible for you to do.
Second, I think these systems ignore player incentives. I think that global competitive ranking encourages the worst of playerbases, that skill is an arbitrary mechanism to optimize on instead of something like how close each match was, or player-reported satisfaction levels, or variety of play-styles, or any other of a dozen other metrics.
Third, caring about bots radically shrinks your design space. You can't have exploits, players have to have a "right" way to play, modding has to be more limited. It shrinks the game not only in the sense that it makes your systems more complicated -- it fundamentally shrinks what your game can do as a game, and how your game can evolve with the rest of the medium.
Finally, not only is skill not a particularly rewarding metric to optimize on when what you really want is for your players to have fun, most of the problems with automation explicitly only are a problem for competitive matchmaking. If you're optimizing for player-reported satisfaction, you probably don't care if people are botting your game, because successful bots will be optimizing for creating good matches instead of for just winning.
Personal plug, with my current project, Loop Thesis, LAN play is the only multiplayer. I only want people to play with friends, and I'm not trying to build some kind of community or network. That decision has simplified my architecture so much, the game is so much more modder friendly, the networking code is so much simpler, everything is nicer, and more stable, and more player friendly, because I don't have to care about bots and cheaters.
Future games that I make, even if they include global matchmaking, will not have global competitive rankings. My personal take now has become that 90% of the time these systems are a design antipattern.
It's counterproductive. I want players playing my game to have fun. I have to ban bots because they make the game not fun. The reason the bots make the game not fun is because all of my design hinges fun on giving players an optimization problem that I explicitly don't want them to solve in creative ways. The bots are solving the optimization problem too well. So getting rid of that optimization problem, getting rid of the rankings, makes so many other design/engineering problems go away. The bots aren't the problem, the optimization problem is the problem.
I've tried going back to destiny several times over the past few years. It's too clinical. The good glitches get overnight patches. The bad ones last forever. The pvp is a non-stop sweat fest of me getting killed over and over and over and over. It just stopped being fun.
I game to escape the mundane reality of my relatively poor lot in American life. As soon as I start feeling that way when playing a game it's all over. I haven't found a game since the original destiny that gives me that escape. Games like pubg, fortnite, csgo, cod, battlefield, halo, all feel the same to me. I don't like most indie games, or 3ps, and don't have the time for games like ksp, factorial, civ and can't get immersed in single player games anymore. So my options are limited. It's been good though. With virtually no games worth investing money into a PC, console, or iaps, I've broadened my social circle and learned new skills. I imagine the market is going to swing back around to cater to the coop centered gamers when they realize that middle aged families with teenaged children or older have far more disposable income than the current demographic of school aged kids and young adults.
Isn't this an argument for skill-based matchmaking rather than against it? (Since the OP whom you agree with makes a case against optimizing for SBMM, I presume you're also against it)
In other words. I love the idea, and the feel of overwatch which uses sbmm. However the game stacks teams to make matches frustrating.
Some games I'll be the highest rated player on the team and have an amazing game. Despite playing better than my average I will still lose skill rank points if my team loses. Conversely, I can spin in spawn for an entire match, get carried to a win and gain points. By naively averaging team vs team the fun is taken out of the game because too many factors are ignored when averaging leading to exploitable metrics. Exploitable metrics left unchecked causes a games community to splinter, shrink, and grow toxic as more players get frustrated and quit leaving behind a less savory group.
Likewise, AFAIK, dota2 doesn't seem to suffer much from bots, and their rank system seems to work ok.
Arguably Fortnite / Overwatch / PUBG style games do suffer from aimbots, but whatever downside they bring, those games seem wildly successful. And the regional / global ranking system seems integral to their success.
Given that a large number of highly successful games do have it, I don't think your argument has much of a merit - it's surely a challenge to implement them but it seems like a worthwhile problem to solve, rather than avoid, at least if your goal includes global / regional success beyond small niche.
To the extent that some games can legitimately get away with global competitive ranks without suffering bots, that doesn't mean it's a healthy choice for every (or even most) other games. Of course, no design rule is absolute, we're just speaking in generalities.
That being said, both League and Dota are investing massive resources to prevent botting on a system that arguably would be just as if not more enjoyable if it was redesigned. I feel the same way about games like Overwatch, even some inherently globalized systems like Pokemon Go that would be difficult to change -- I don't personally believe the ranking systems are making them better. I think they're there because they're expected to be there, not because they're reinforcing the core design of the game.
The toxicity, for the most part, doesn’t come from ranks. It comes from being stuck in a bad game for 20-60 minutes. Competition just exacerbates it because now ranks/points/money are on the line.
I’m talking about being stuck with an asshole that rages for any number of reasons, then decides to kill themselves the whole game to the enemy (feeding). Or people who flame you for any number of reasons.
And you can’t quit because then you get a strike for being the first person to abandon the game, with penalties for doing it more than a few times.
Being 1 person down in a 5v5 can be incredibly hard to come back against. This is also why Overwatch is so incredibly toxic. A 5v6 fight is almost unwinnable, one person throwing is enough to lose the match. Dota handles this with comeback mechanics, but that’s only if a player actually disconnects/abandons. If they stay in the game purposefully throwing, you’re trapped and out of luck. Unlike Overwatch, TF2 isn’t quite as toxic because matches consist of 24 or 32 players, meaning each person’s actions aren’t as crucial as a 5v5. You can also freely leave and join casual matches. For the majority of the playerbase, that’s fine. Ranked introduces a bit of toxicity but that’s unavoidable in a team game. It’s also unavoidable whenever you have anything at stake- whether it’s money or points, etc. That’s just the nature of competition. No one forces anyone to play ranked matches instead of casual ones.
Competitive ranks and matchmaking can be fun, but you have to balance it right. With team games it’s very difficult, but it would be the same without a global rank system. Actually it would be worse because of imbalanced matchmaking.
And for many people, that rank is -why- they play. It’s fine to not be competitive like that, but understand that a lot of people are indeed competitive like that. Ranks are an indicator of skill and time invested, and there’s no reason to take that away from people just because one personally doesn’t care for ranked or whatever. Dota still has casual mode, and it’s still toxic, because of the length of the matches and having to rely on random teammates.
Also, I have some severe doubts about the origin of toxicity in that game being in the matchmaking system. Dota was the game where you were abused as a noob when you started out ("welcome to dota, you suck"). It's a niche game from 2003 after all.
The skill gap between good and bad players is ludicrous. It's like putting LeBron James against middle schoolers. There simply isn't a fun game when the game is determined by the singular best player, and the other nine players are being carried to victory regardless of their contribution, or being pounded into the dirt because they're less than exceptional.
I could never go back to random matchmaking after experiencing global rankings.
It especially doesn't follow that global rankings should be a user-visible metric, or an explicit player motivator (a la seasonal rankings). People don't bot because they're unhappy with the players they're matched against. They bot because they want a publicly visible number to get bigger and because player rewards are locked behind competitive rankings.
People who join ranked want to compete. If you don't want to then there is another queue available that's not a public ranking.
Then who cares whether or not players bot? Let them. Heck, go all the way and actively support it if it's not an issue.
On the design side, I'm seeing a number of people commenting on here that getting rid of a publicly-facing global ladder would mean that these games couldn't be competitive. I don't believe that's true. We have wildly competitive games in the physical space that don't use global ladders, and they don't suffer for it.
Global ladders are a very specific, very narrow mechanic -- they have some advantages for competitive play, and a whole lot of downsides. And we have options. At the very least, even if we do nothing else, we can shrink the size and make them regional. Or because things are digital we can throw out geography entirely and base them off clans.
Competition in small groups is often preferable to competition in large groups anyway, since that can foster rivalries, and because repeat matchups between competitive players are usually more interesting than random ones.
Depends on where you look. I used to see them a lot in certain game modes and when playing with friends that were new. As one commenter put it:
> To play devil's advocate here -- If you were to play summoner's rift AI games, ARAM, or even some summoner's rift on a sub-30 account late night EST you will be DROWNING in bots. They are EVERYWHERE. They also go almost entirely unpunished. You can track their summoner ID's through OPGG and watch them play the same champion 24 hours a day until 30, change name, and swap champions entirely.
> I tried to get some friends to come to league, and they all quit because their teammates were AI every single time. Not "lul ur bad r u a bot??" but a literal bot grinding exp to sell level 30 accounts. Sure, scripting Xeraths/Cassio's are much more rare -- but League has a huge bot problem sub-30.
I don't ignore success -- Overwatch, League, Dota, and Fortnite are all objectively well-designed games. But that doesn't mean that every decision they make is good design. If success was the only metric I used to judge design quality, I would have to conclude that Farmville was a better game than Hollow Knight.
But in this case, global/regional matchmaking is an essential part of those successful games and their game experience (unlike in-app purchases which are essential for moneymaking but not essential for game play experience). If those games didn't have regional matchmaking, they would provide very different experience.
You keep saying you believe the global matchmaking is not important, but I'm afraid you have presented no coherent argument or evidence so far - hence it looks like you're simply ignoring the reality unfortunately. Given how much core part of the experience the global matchmaking is for those games, the onus is on you to prove the otherwise. So we'll likely have to agree to disagree.
I love MOBAs, but I can't bring myself to try out LoL or DotA2 again since I don't want to deal with angry teammates
I don't know about lol, but DotA 2 has a setting to mute all chat, so you're just playing with quiet teammates. They can still ping the map and use the chat wheel, but that stops pretty much all the chat abuse, especially if you're stuck with a 4 stack that picks on the lone player.
Low level ARAM and TT you would often have out of 10 players, 1 = you, 9 = leveling afk bots that run around to prevent auto-kick.
I think you're totally missing the point. Computing a global competitive rating isn't intended to optimize for skill. Rating is a proxy for skill, sure, but generally it's being used in matchmaking because (a) rating gap is a not-completely-terrible proxy for closeness of matches (because skill gap is a decent proxy for closeness of matches), which contributes to player satisfaction, and (b) you can derive it from easy-to-measure data and while there are fiddly details, everyone is roughly on the same page as to what you're trying to approximate.
It happens that, once you compute that, it's really tempting to sort and report. Perhaps that's a mistake and invites the worst of people's instincts to make numbers go more and bigger.
This still has the constraint that all the players are playing the same game, but as long as you can somehow avoid ascribing value to rank placement then many forms of cheating just stop mattering; the cheaters self-sort themselves into a tier where they don't interact with anyone who can't deal with them.
That being said, I would be more amiable to a system that used player skill as a matchmaking tool if it didn't report those numbers to players.
However, I'm not sure I would say that sorting and reporting is usually a side effect or minor mistake on top of those systems, given that many of these games have seasons, rewards, an entire meta-game built on top of their rankings. The rankings aren't just serving the purpose of getting players matched together -- they're serving as player motivators. The responses that players have can't be seen as a purely accidental side-effect when designers are going out of their way to present this information to the player and to encourage the player to pay attention to it.
Hearthstone is a good example here. Hearthstone has brilliant design, but its ladder system is horrible and dumb. It explicitly encourages net-decking and grinding instead of experimentation. Fast decks are objectively better than slow ones with the same win percentage, because ranking is largely determined by win percentage combined with the number of games you can fit into a season.
Season rewards are then tied to rank, so the best way to get new cards if you want to experiment is to build a boring deck and grind. This is despite the fact that for most players, knowing within the first few turns whether or not they're going to win is not fun.
So of course people bot Hearthstone, because before you can build creative fun decks and play against interesting people with interesting strategies, you have to pay the "fun tax" of grinding on the ladder. Everything brilliant about Hearthstone is bogged down by being tied to this kind of toxic experience.
There's no way to say this about such a popular game without sounding naive, and I'll take the criticism, but I do not believe for one second it would be difficult to build a better public ranking system for Hearthstone, especially given the ludicrous amount of player data they have. Even something as simple as balancing rank with deck variety so players got fewer rewards the more times they played the same cards would go a huge way towards getting rid of net-decking.
These systems do increase engagement among very invested players, so maybe that's the only intention. But to heck with engagement -- is laddering at the higher ranks of Hearthstone fun? People do it, people say they enjoy it. Again, I'll take the criticism a statement like this warrants, but I don't believe them. I don't believe the experience of grinding a single 55% win-rate deck for hours and hours is an experience that is worth having or producing.
And when I think about why players do that, the only cause that comes to my mind is, "the game tells them to."
Almost all of these games have an "unranked" mode in matchmaking that doesn't publicly report your rank.
>Hearthstone is a good example here. Hearthstone has brilliant design, but its ladder system is horrible and dumb.
Hearthstone is probably the worst collectible card game I've ever played. The actual gameplay of it is poor and heavily RNG reliant. It's not bad if you put in an inordinate amount of hours into it, because then you'll get a feel for what the opponent likely has and how likely you are to succeed, but this is generally not something you can just easily reason about without an absolute metric ton of experience. That's why net decking is so common - it's too difficult for most players to figure out near-optimal combinations, because they don't have as full of an overview of the game as the experienced players. The search space is just too large.
I'm not going to argue about what games are good. Substitute out another online card game you like, I promise 90% of the time it will have the same problem. My experience with MTG Arena has taught me that net decking there is just as common, and I consider MTG to be a much more skill-based game than Hearthstone.
Like Hearthstone, MTG Arena has "unranked" modes, but like Hearthstone, the majority of rewards and design is meant to force you into ranked modes.
> it's too difficult for most players to figure out near-optimal combinations
Take a step back. Why do most players feel that they need to find near-optimal combinations? We have a ton of research on card-game archetypes going back over a decade. It is generally understood by every designer in the field that competitive optimizers are one player archetype of many, and often not even the largest one. But the design of our ranking systems explicitly encourages players to become competitive optimizers to the exclusion of every other archetype.
Of course, everyone wants to build good decks, but the experience of playing paper MTG with people even in semi-competitive settings is often very different than the experience of playing MTG Arena -- the "need" to optimize is on a whole new level. It's the same game, but the incentive structures of the metagame that surrounds it changes how the players act.
That's not to say that competitive players don't exist, but it is to say that in every area of card-game design, we recognize that the design space needs to be wider than that. And in our ranking systems, we don't. It's also not to say that stuff like tournaments are bad. It is to say that every online card game I have ever played suffers from these problems, and every one of them uses the same exact ranking system, and maybe the problems are related to that common element.
Is it that the game designers sat down and deliberately designed a system to get you to play more ranked or did the players demand rewards for ranked (or the designers anticipated such a reward)? I've seen the latter happen in an online game. The players in World of Warships demanded more rewards after seeing the initial competitive game mode (team battles). Eventually the developers gave it to them.
But, I would say the responsibility of a designer is to be able to parse player feedback and disregard bad suggestions. If your players knew how to design a game, they would be game designers.
One of the big reasons design is so hard is because you're trying to understand another person's motivations better than they themselves do. Feedback shouldn't be ignored, but neither should it be implemented verbatim. Players just aren't good at sussing out their own motivations -- they'll tell you, "we want more rewards for ranked" instead of "we don't want to feel obligated to dip into unrelated game modes", or "we want to feel more like we're progressing towards something."
Players also aren't good at giving feedback about what feels wrong, their feedback instead takes the form of half-thought ideas of how to fix what feels wrong. Responding to that feedback means digging under it to find out the actual problem and addressing that specifically.
Note that this isn't just me talking. Rosewater himself has talked about this phenomenon a lot in his design blog on MTG, and he has a good quote on this:
> The key is whether or not what the players want will in the end make them happy. Players ask for things all the time that if we actually gave them would make the game less enjoyable for them. We do spend a lot of time trying to understand what they players want, though, because when we are able to give players things they want, we do.
The point being, I have no doubt that if MTG Arena announced tomorrow that it was getting rid of ranked rewards and seasons, the playerbase would be livid. I still suspect an alternate system for rewards would be better in the long run.
you can't know that without knowing the specifics of how that rating is generated.
I promise you ELO for chess is a hell of a lot more accurate than ELO for league.
Hearthstone ranking is not a good proxy for skill, it's a good proxy for the amount of time you have to play and the speed of your deck. Objectively, the best strategy to get good ranks at Hearthstone is to build a fast, >50% win-rate deck and then to grind. That's not a good proxy for skill.
> As players win games in ranked, they gain League Points, also more commonly known as LP. They also lose LP when they are defeated. Upon reaching 100 total LP in a given division, players enter a promotion series to try and get to the next available division.
> Players must win a majority of their games in order to advance to the next division. Promotion series within certain ranks, like Bronze III to II, are a best-of-three series. From one rank to the next, such as Silver I to Gold V, promotion series are best-of-five instead.
> If a player doesn’t win that amount of games, then they’ll need to get back to 100 LP to try again.
Yes, the exact details of how your MMR is calculated is kept secret, but it doesn't matter if you still know exactly what you need to optimize for: winning sequential games, often in chunks, and going out of your way to avoid losing streaks which can result in demotions.
Arguing that hiding the exact MMR formula means that players won't alter their behaviors to fit its approximate contours is like arguing that because Google's page-rank algorithm isn't public that SEO is not a thing.
(Some of) the consequences of this setup include:
A) losing matches becomes much more costly, which exasperates the problems League has with feeders and trolls, and lends itself to a more toxic environment.
B) Experimentation and learning new heroes is best done off of the ladder until you feel like you're competitive with that hero. Experimenting on the ladder is not only bad for your rank, it's also likely to get you reported by other teammates as a feeder (see the toxicity mentioned above).
Players are effectively optimizers. If you give them a system with a clear success metric (ie, a public rank going up), they will optimize their play-style to fit that system. Designers often assume players will stop doing this at some point. They won't grind in an RPG because that's boring. They won't bot a competitive game because that's not fun for other players.
Most players don't think in those terms during gameplay (myself included). Thinking that way is hard. As a designer, if you want a player to optimize for creating a fun experience for themselves and others, you have to explicitly build your publicly-facing systems to encourage that behavior.
You stated that rank is a poor proxy for skill. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21952133
I stated you can't know that without details. Knowing that winning gives you more LP and losing takes it away is not detail nor specifics.
You can't know, but you're going to hold onto that branch rather than be a little introspective and consider that you may be wrong.
What do you mean by this? A lot of game developers seem to be obsessed with the term "LAN" but I don't really understand how that has anything to do with application level network protocols that build on IP, which does not care about physical network topology.
It is very irritating because each developer seems to have their own made-up definition of "LAN." For example, there are games that won't let you connect to IP addresses outside the private ranges. There are games that won't let you enter an IP at all, and instead require the host to be found by broadcasting on your subnet. There are games that won't let you connect across subnets for other, arbitrary reasons. And then there are many games where they use the term LAN but it has nothing at all to do with LAN and works exactly like online multiplayer in any old game -- select the host (or enter its IP) and bam you're connected, whether the connection is local or intercontinenal is none of the game's concern (this is how it should be).
I have no idea what I'm buying whenever I see a game that sells "LAN multiplayer."
The game ships with tools that allow players to very quickly connect to running games on the same network as them, even if they don't have anything installed. Anyone with a copy of the game can turn on hosting, and the game will not only handle being a server, it will also serve a web-based client for the game.
In practice what that means is that if you own the game, you can pull out your laptop, connect to someone's wifi, turn on hosting, and all they need to do is visit a local IP on any of their devices and they are instantly playing with you.
Of course, networking doesn't force you to be behind a NAT, so there's nothing preventing you from hosting a server on Linode and exposing that IP publicly. But aside from some token authentication options, the game isn't designed to handle a bunch of public anonymous connections. The server also isn't persistent; it's assumed that once you're done playing you will shut the client down, which will also shut the server down.
Short version, you have a traditionally hosted server with an IP address, and it's not pulling any fancy tricks to force you to set that server up in a specific way. But it's not designed to be a persistent server with uptimes of like a month or something, and it's designed to handle a few connections from people that you know. The out of the box experience is going to give you a Intranet IP, not a public one, and if you want to get it working over the public Internet for some reason, you'll need to handle stuff like port forwarding yourself.
That means: no matchmaking (one game per server), no public server lists, only minor authentication and anti-spam options, and transient servers that disappear when play sessions are over. Loop Thesis isn't technologically restricted to a LAN, but the experience is designed for drop-in, friends-get-together LAN play.
: No promises, but I am experimenting with touch controls for phones.
: Unless the community builds them and maintains them on their own.
This might still be the best compromise but it is terribly frustrating to be accused of cheating because of different skill levels or tactics.
I spent my entire middle school life playing Starcraft. When SC2 came out the same rush tactics I learned in SC1 worked. I was often accused of hacking simply because I had years of experience tweaking the fastest build method.
This is exactly what happened when they had this feature in Overwatch. One of the top (legit) Widow players could not find a game because everyone he played against vote banned him from their games. He was basically unable to play the game because he was too good at it.
These systems always seem to fail because there is no accountability. You can't allow actions without accountability for those same actions.
The problem is that accountability means involving humans and humans don't scale.
This method has problems, but those could be rectified later via human moderation and other means.
There are still games with votekick/ban. They work for cheaters, but the collateral damage that comes with votekick/ban is far, far greater than anticheat wave bans.
People votekick for very petty reasons and people often reflexively vote yes on the assumption that the votekick is done in good faith.
This is usually just a band aid and can be pretty ineffective in a game like Battlefield where there are a large number of players in a single match. Specifically, a cheater has to be really obvious for enough people to notice and actually care enough to cast a vote.
But that's why I mention giving server control to users; they can experiment with their own alternative anti cheat and moderation solutions.
The cheats became quite trivial to pick out, because their aim was never natural. It was always pinned on the target and stuck like glue or smooth and natural until they got close to targets.
I'd just sit back and occasionally sight jack people I hadn't met who entered the server, and the banlist slowly grew over time. The other players would stick around, so it obviously at least resulted in good games.
Some by butt-hurt snowflakes that can't handle better players but most by explicit trolls trying to cause mayhem, spam and hopefully getting someone kicked for fun. At some point the voting gets either ignored or disabled outright.
Previously (e.g. CS 1.x) you could have a loose federation of privately-run servers, with a certain amount of darwinian-selection for good or bad communities.
However once GameCo starts selling exclusive skins and weapons and XP-boosters and things, they can't allow the possibility of rogue servers just unlocking everything, so everything was brought together under a corporate-hosting-only umbrella. This also destroyed the capacity to leverage volunteer admins, unless the company invested in a mechanism for "you pay we host" servers.
> Allow users to votekick and voteban.
People love to say others are cheating when they are losing. Not going to work.
Allowing users to provide their own solutions? That’s funny you say that. Tournaments and leagues on CS pretty much made you install software that would periodically take screenshot of your computer to prove you were not cheating.
I used to play Counter Strike starting at Beta 1.3, on a 56k modem. In NZ we had some team who went off overseas to represent NZ in a competition. They lost the first round. After they got back I found their practice server. They didn’t seem to mind if randoms joined. I got 3 headshots and they banned me for “cheating”
My point is, if you leave it up to the players. They will kick and ban anyone for any reason because they can. You simply cannot rely on such a system.
And idiots are idiots, I don't want to play with them anyway. So if a server is full of them who kock people for the sake of it ... then I just choose a different server.
How would that work in case of MMORPG with open world ? One clan would votekick competing clan? Any group votekick whoever they want? Or in case of FPS games lets vote to kick player X because he is just too good (killing us all) so he is cheating for sure?
> Provide the server software for players to host their own servers and provide their own solutions to these problems.
Dosen't apply for most MMO games.
Checks and balances. It's a political problem at that point. MUDs had sometimes very traditional political institutions for bans/player behavior issues, and the same can directly apply to MMOs: "councils of multiple clans", for instance. You can already think of most corporations running MMOs as "BFDLs" (benevolent dictators for life) and there's good reason to ask them to add juries/trials for a more open democratic process to bans, as one common political solution to dictatorship. The same obviously goes the other direction that if players want more involvement in bans/kicks, they need structures like juries/trials to keep things transparent and to bubble up such issues as appropriate.
You can't always solve political problems with technical solutions, but more importantly sometimes technical problems have good political solutions.
>> Provide the server software for players to host their own servers and provide their own solutions to these problems.
> Dosen't apply for most MMO games.
Arguably it should. At the very least for long term archival, MMO games should feel more pressure to provide server software access to players to host their own servers. There's also a lot of interesting history associated with MMOs that had open servers (many MUDs), or reverse engineered server shards (things like various Ultima Online player-created shards). Even if most players would prefer a "canon" experience in BFDL hosted shards, that isn't necessarily a strong reason to avoid offering players a choice to host their own servers. Arguably most good MMOs hosting your own server cluster is a great amount of effort and would be A) self-limiting (only certain groups of players would have the combo of resources/interests/skills), and B) at least somewhat useful to the game owner themselves as a form of CI/CD test (if other people can reproduce your Production environment you are more resilient against possible mistakes/failures in your Production environment).
Political solutions can clearly fail, and that becomes another reason to allow players to run their own servers as it is an "out" in the case of a political solution failing (a different sort of resiliency to the technical sort).
MUDs also have tales of successes. Times when political alliances defeated griefers and the community was stronger for it. Partly because of the relative ease of spinning up MUDs there are so many stories and experiments out there to choose from / learn from. MUDs were an early laboratory for what became MMOs in so many ways, and it will always be easier to reproduce studies done in that sort of a laboratory setting, including the failures. In science often the failures are the greatest learning experiences leading to the most interesting hypotheses.
They're a different beast entirely. But in the case of battlefield, you have a capped playercount that is orders of magnitude smaller than an MMO, and much more manageable.
Teammates will kick you out for stealing kills from them. Teammates will leave bots on even if they are flagrant bots if they are helping the team. Enemies will kick you out if you are too good.
>Teammates will kick you out for stealing kills from them
Then you find another server that has fostered a better community. Or even start your own.
Even if the ratio of absolute mean-spirited jerks to decent players was 10:1, that's more than enough well intentioned players to foster good server communities. But I suspect the actual number is closer to a reversed amount.
Obviously MMOs would be a different beast, but the type of cheating you're trying to defeat - the threat model - is often different than wallhacking autoaimers.
In the case of WoW, they realized their mistake and ripped out the global PvP ladder over a decade ago.
Votekick systems used to work great for many games. They don't work in games with global ranking systems because those ranking systems create toxic incentives. Once games become "serious business" instead of casual fun, the knives come out.
If you want to see a game where that effort fails, one needs not look further than Mordhau. It's an incredibly awful community where players will initiate votekicks simply for getting killed, and cause players to get kicked/banned because the community finds overabusing the feature to be funny.
...lol, that's nothing, expect people getting kicked for having a feminine voice.
It costs money to hire, train, and oversee said staff. Game companies don't want to spend that money.
In constant dollars the retail price of top-end games is basically flat, or even lower now.
Most aaa titles have significant dlc that hardly expands the game. Gtav is an exception, and that's only because stupid/rich people whale on shark cards. Also repeat purchases from banned players.
Cod is now $120/yr. Without and iaps. If you don't buy the dlc you'll have a hard timemaking friends and playing pvp.
Most games are like that now. Looking at title prices is a flawed metric. A good metric total cost of all iaps. If there are unlimited purchases available then you can be sure that the game has been crippled to coerce vulnerable players into spending irrational amounts. This trend is unethical and everyone involved in allowing this to continue is no better than the sacklers.
Also, it’s frequently the case that DLC today has development and maintenance costs that the base retail package simply doesn’t.
I have less of a problem with buying a game and its season pass for $120 than I do when I buy a game and season pass for $120 to find thousands of dollars in iaps required to get everything. This trend is disgusting and I for one have written off all companies with even a single product engaging in this. This includes Blizzard, rockstar, Microsoft's label, bungie, Activision, ea, etc. To earn my purchases they'll need to ditch all the unethical iaps and find an ethical and sustainable business model. Though I'd rather see them go bankrupt and firesale all their ip to indie studios.
I'm the last one to defend Big Business in any industry, but I've seen the gaming industry from the inside and as a consumer. Here's my opinion: gamers are absolutely the worst customer base I've ever seen.
I don't feel entitled to a $n game for less than $n. However, if a company sells 0.5 of a $n game for the $n price I will take issue with them. There is no shortage of half assed games sold with dlc and gambling for aaa prices. No man's sky is the epitome of this. How they didn't get arrested and sued for fraud/false advertising boggles my mind. The industry is ripe with huge promises from the scummy advertising department, that turn out to usually be a shadow of what was promised.
Studios cut just about every corner, blatantly reuse assets yoy in dlc/new titles, skimp on infra, and have the audacity to complain about the players being cheap? The industry has pushed away so many deep pockets with these awful tactics. Try delivering good products first without selling me a bridge.
This is one of the reasons I dropped out of the gaming market almost entirely. The way I see it, 'gamers' are some of the least savvy consumers on the planet. They continue to buy games from companies they know have burned them numerous times. In some markets, consumers are known for holding decades long grudges against companies that have wronged consumers, but not gamers. Gamers seem to be exceptionally forgiving and naive in this regard, and that lets games companies walk all over them.
Invasive rootkit DRM, games broken on launch, games broken forever with the expectation that community modders will donate their labor to fix it for free, games that don't facilitate community servers, games that are split in two before launch with half the game being labeled "DLC", thinly veiled skinner boxes designed like slot machines designed to encourage binge-play ("grinding for rare loot") and sometimes designed to extract even more money from players who've already purchased the game ("lootcrates".) A DRM company, widely beloved by gamers, being forced by the courts to revise their abhorrent returns policy (https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/23/valve-steam-fined-2-mill...) Shit, I've had 'gamers' get fuming mad at me before for not worshiping at the altar of Valve, as though it were religious heresy for me to criticize a for-profit American corporation.
Even when the 'gamer community' recognizes something as broken, they seem to forget by the time the next game comes around. Just look at the history of Bethesda releases. Morrowind was broken but somewhat novel. Oblivion was again broken, though perhaps with some of the edges rounded over. Next was Fallout 3, which was still broken. Skyrim was very broken, at this point the pattern should have been obvious to everybody paying attention, and to be fair to the gamers the brokenness of Bethesda games was becoming a meme at this point. Fallout 4 comes around and it's their most nerfed game yet, but still broken as fuck. How could anybody be surprised at this point? Yet people still bought that, and they even bought the next game, Fallout 76, which was the most egregiously Bethesda broken game yet. Currently the 'gamer community' recognizes Fallout 76 and Bethesda as dumpster fires, but will they buy the next Bethesda game? I'd bet on it. When it comes time to vote with their wallets, I wager they'll be compliant consumers and do as the marketing tells them to. Even when they learn, they don't learn. The lesson doesn't set in, a new game is released, and the cycle continues.
A straight up and down company like IBM or Ford would not dominate in the games industry. Valve, ea, bethseda are leaders in play. They give you the opportunity to play religious heresy, or witness a fallout 76 firestorm. Where else do you get to play with a billion dollar company?
If you can't accept the costs of central servers, don't make them an essential part of your business model.
What’s most surprising is that the vast majority of gamers aren’t outraged by this at all, despite repeated demonstrations of untrustworthiness by anticheat companies.
Could you share what some of the good solutions are? As someone who works in games, (not in anticheat) it's a stretch to say that companies arent competent enough to implement good anticheat.
I disagree on the statement that developers, publishers, and/or anticheat companies are too incompetent to implement good solutions. They have not been putting serious effort into the problem or else the state of cheating in video games wouldn’t be as bad as it is today.
As a small, real and not at all outlier example I was asked once if the game's backend servers could establish a persistent mutual TLS connection to authentication servers so game clients wouldn't need to implement oauth / oidc, in which they'd request whatever data they wanted in essence.
Multiplayer games are only a continuation of this philosophy. For quite a few games, the 'multiplayer' aspect is created by simply replicating identical game state across all clients, meaning clients end up with a ton of information the player shouldn't be able to see being beamed to their computer.
most game UIs are literally flash, or embedded chrome instances that dynamically load their content from user input or straight from the web, often over unencrypted connections. These browsers also often have direct sandbox bypasses to the game engine.
Making games is hard. Making games secure is something games companies don't want to invest in, and they've largely just eaten the risk with bolt-on anticheat software. Games companies are in a similar but slightly worse position than the financial industries where, due to historically not valuing security talent they can't and don't acquire it, instead opting for whatever off-the-shelf solutions, mitigations and contractors they can use to help stem the bleeding with the exception of less than a handful of household name shops.
It is possible, depending on the game to take good steps to make games harder to cheat at. Dota 2, for example took steps (in their rather favourable context) to thwart cheating by not sending information to the player on objects they should not be able to see (though mistakes are made in this on a regular basis). For any other industry, such a filter would be the standard way to implement the server-client relationship but this is not a priority in game development as it stands.
There's simply no other non-security software one downloads to their computer that comes with a heavy and intrusive rootkit that attempts to try to see if you're messing with it, because no other industry as wealthy or influential as gaming considers security an afterthought.
I guess what I’m actually saying is that good security design has to extend to the client in those cases. Defence in depth.
I also think it’s unfair to suggest this is an issue due to lack of talent. Although I’d be open to knowing what you think is lacking in particular.
I mean talent in the sense of hiring. Games companies don't hire security engineers by-and-large to work on their systems.
Since you suggest there is a lack of talent I'm just curious what you think the gap is.
And if the matchmaking is really good, then all the cheaters just end up playing with themselves, and there's even less impact on the general community. I could even see people ending up in separate "augmented" tiers, and then you don't even have to feel bad for being lower ranked. In fact, you could end up with bragging rights if you end up in the augmented tier because you look like an aim bot (I've played with players that were almost indistinguishable from aim bots).
Also there is no such things as "MM being really good" it's a tradoff between many criterias.
Then instead you have a FPS with multiple weapons and it takes several seconds to switch between them. One has a high rate of fire but is useless against players with armor, another is the opposite. Cheaters don't know if the opponent is wearing armor (or what kind) because the server doesn't tell them that until they're in the same room, by which point it's too late.
Make certain weapons better against certain defenses, so it's a matter of predicting what your opponent will do and being ready for it. Make the humans do the things that humans are still better at, instead of trying to prevent a computer from beating them at things computers are better at.
Many of the very popular games now require good aim. Some people spend countless hundreds/thousands of hours just practicing their aim and muscle memory. It's part of the fun for them. CS:GO is a notable example.
The problem isn't really that it's impossible to ban such cheating. ESEA do it pretty well in CS:GO - their anti-cheat is practically a RAT.
It's that banning cheaters and making a bulletproof anticheat has two issues:
1) To do it properly you need to basically code a RAT, which has some privacy issues. If Valve do it, it could hurt activity, platform support, and be controversial. ESEA have done it since day one, but their player base is much smaller and more competitive. ESEA is also limited to Windows.
2) It's not profitable. That's the honest truth. They ban obvious public cheats and the cheaters will buy another account and come back, probably use another cheat again, get banned again, repeat. Some games don't have awful cheat protection because the company can't make a good one, they have awful cheat protection because it's not profitable to alienate all the cheaters in the game away from the platform (and their many purchases per person; legitimate players only buy once).
If only one game has working anti-cheat, it may not be worth the cheater's time to break it because it's only one game, and they can go cheat in a different game. If all the games had it then more people would try to break it and more would succeed. And once they have a working method, it can be employed against any other game that uses the same kind of anti-cheating, even if it's not the same vendor's, as long as the mechanism is similar.
But having all the vendors get together to pool resources and design one good anti-cheating software makes it even worse, because then it might be a little harder to defeat, but the prize for defeating it is being able to cheat in every game without even having to translate the cheating method to each new game.
So you get small victories or nothing. There is no winning at scale because increasing scale only increases the number of adversaries and the gains from finding an effective way to cheat.
It's basically the same problem as keeping the latest Hollywood releases off of pirate sites. They count success as occasionally having a week before a new release is on the pirate sites instead of being there the same day, and even that doesn't happen very often.
It turns out it's more effective to make it so it doesn't matter. In their case by making it so easy and cheap to watch Netflix on your TV that it's not worth most peoples' time to figure out how to use BitTorrent even if it has 100% of their content. In this case by making more games that humans are better at than computers, so you can't use a computer to cheat.
I feel like the concept of "ban waves" ought to help a lot here. Wait a couple weeks between banning people, and then randomly don't ban some people during the wave. Should make it pretty hard to test your anti-anti-cheat.
It's a thing that enables cheaters to not get caught. They may not need it if they have some other way to not get caught, but you can expect to see it if it is or becomes the easiest thing that works.
In your game design not only is it dull because you have a 50:50 chance of having the right gun equipped to take advantage of a situation even if no one is cheating. But it’s still very amenable to cheating both because the cheat would be able to switch weapon the instant the client was informed of the state of the opponent, beating a human where it actually matters and would still be able to have a mechanically perfect aim.
Most videogames actually have the sort of human reaction prediction you are talking about and that’s why people cheat because they are bad at it. So make it up by exploiting information sent but not displayed or through mechanical assistance. The interesting case there is that mechanically good players that have a good read can beat cheaters.
Stuff like the DeepMind successes playing Chess, Go and Starcraft ultimately show that even with an environment where things are fairly level that computers have the edge in games albeit with an unattainable for cheat makers level of technology.
Except that it's not random, because you can try to figure it out. You know what's in the map. If you go to where a particular weapon is and it's not there, now you can expect the opponent to have it, so you start looking for defenses against it etc. Or you know that you're playing against Bob and Bob always goes for the same weapon like a chump because he doesn't know what to do with any of the others. Or you get a weapon and then go around collecting every defense against it on the map so the opponent can't get them.
> But it’s still very amenable to cheating both because the cheat would be able to switch weapon the instant the client was informed of the state of the opponent, beating a human where it actually matters and would still be able to have a mechanically perfect aim.
Which is why it's not about switching faster, it's about making the right choice to begin with. The whole idea is if you have to switch at all you're probably already dead and switching a half second faster isn't going to save you.
probably family friendly.
should make it.
There can still be strategy in it without leaving any easy way to cheat.
I wonder if anyone had ever designed a completely external aimbot. A camera, a computer vision system and a hardware mouse or gamepad multiplexer/proxy that mixes real controls with the adjusting movements.
That won't be fun to use (except, maybe, for PvE, if manual dexterity is just a irritating mechanical hurdle - there are games like that, too), but surely fun to hack.
Heh. Sometimes I regret that I won't live long enough to see all the drama around cyborgs in sports and gaming...
war thunder does it and it works well enough. it still has other problems, like p2w vehicles, but the system is solid
This problem is as old as competitive multiplayer itself, and various approaches have all been tried.
Transparent walls, for example, can be done via the graphics driver (or by replacing your graphics driver).
Pre-rendering the scenes on the server and then sending those is just not really possible today due to latency -- even google can't get it right with Stadia so far.
But, if the game engine/server just crunched the line-of-sight numbers and didn't even send location data for rendering enemies that were out of LOS, then that would work and while it is heavier than doing nothing, it isn't really that heavy.
That wouldn't stop an aimbot, but it would prevent some classes of exploits.
Of course, people would then gyrate back and forth across zone/room thresholds as a way of protecting themselves, which seems obnoxious, but also seems like a very easy behavior for the server to detect and punish.
Ah, but Stadia (and Playstation Now, and Geforce Now) are trying to solve a different problem: moving all the compute to the cloud, so that the game console can be wimpy (or of a different/incompatible architecture, in PSNow's case.)
If you remove that requirement—or rather, impose the requirement that the client hardware must be just as powerful as if it were running a full game—then you can do something clever by splitting the game not into "renderer on the server, frame buffer on the client" but rather into "game and projection matrix on the server; display-list renderer on the client."
In other words, the server (or per-client server-side agent) would be responsible for doing all the evaluation of local physics (e.g. soft-body dynamics, constraint-resolution during rigging, etc.), lighting calculation, and all the other stuff that currently requires the client to "know stuff" about the world; and then it'd output to the client, on each tick, just a display-list—a bunch of loaded-model references, their positions in space and the positions of their rigged limbs, and the reflected-light amount on each of their polys; any temporary particles that exist for that frame, and their positions; etc. This would all be culled down to a virtual viewport.
The job of the client would then just be to receive this display-list, each frame, and draw it. It would also perhaps be responsible for doing client-side visual lerps between server ticks. (Probably each rigged limb would be annotated with linear+angular velocity properties.)
In other words, this would be a recapitulation of the X11 protocol, but where the primitives are 3D objects rather than 2D ones. (It'd kind of look like the protocol between games and OS display drivers, but at the same time higher-level in some ways and lower-level in others.)
This would be highly bandwidth-efficient (and jitter-tolerant!) compared to what Stadia is doing. You'd probably be able to play a decent game through this on 3G, even. But you'd need a computer that could do the final rendering passes.
And even then it wouldn't stop cheating. Bots would just look for triangles drawn with enemy uniform textures (very easy if you have the display lists) and aim at them.
I think you missed the "viewport culling" step in the above description. The server would only be sending the client enough information to draw what's going to be on the client's screen (since that's the only information that's naturally left after that step of the rendering pipeline!) So, on any frame where another player is obscured by a wall, data about that player wouldn't be in the display-list sent to the client, any more than it would be in the image Stadia sends.
This is ignoring things like player shadows which are rendered separately and need polygons which are not in the visible fulcrum.
Also we are both ignoring audio. Sounds like gunshots come from a specific place in the world.
Well, yes, but I'd categorize that as "acts indistinguishable from theoretically-optimal human performance", rather than cheating per se. Or would you ban The Flash for cheating?
> This is ignoring things like player shadows which are rendered separately and need polygons which are not in the visible fulcrum.
No, not really; a shadow mesh is generated on the server, as part of the lighting step. The client then receives the shadow mesh, potentially disconnected from whatever's casting the shadow if the thing casting the shadow was culled. Just like what happens inside your GPU.
> Sounds like gunshots come from a specific place in the world.
In a paradigm like this, audio-cue triggers would essentially be "scripted particles" in the scene. If you can't see them, they're not rendered, so you can't hear them, either.
I'm not trying to describe something here that's a lossless approximation of how the game would work if run locally. I'm describing something with real effects on gameplay balance, but potentially good ones.
Mind you, I'm less picturing FPS games as the best use of this, and more picturing RTS games. Take the "fog of war" of a game like Starcraft, and implement it server-side, such that it's not the client not-rendering unexplored stuff, but the server.
Shadow meshes are often generated by rendering the scenes from the viewpoint of the light sources. This would have to be done on the server, so the server is already doing some rendering.
Sounds certainly need to be rendered, even for non-visible players. Otherwise you couldn't hear someone shooting behind you.
You ideas would work much better with a RTS. But so do solutions like Stadia.
It’s a bit more difficult for other forms of cheating (like duping, wallhacking, etc) but still plenty doable — just create sets of rules to asynchronously sanity check every Nth player action against. No it won’t be free, but you’d likely make back the costs with happy players staying subscribed.
If you take the problem to the limits: a camera looking at the physical screen and a robot actually moving the mouse and keyboard is going to be able to have users cheating.
You simply need a reputation system. Allow people to vote on someone being a cheater or simply refuse subsequent match with them.
After all, anti-cheat software is meant to solve just one problem (people modifying the technology), but there are other ways too to destroy the gaming experience of the other players (teamkilling, wasting resources, deconstructing buildings, etc.).
All those problems are not being solved by anti-cheat software. But the tools to solve them (IP-range banning, server-lockdown to known/trusted players, etc.), are also quite good at solving the cheater problem. In my experience, having a good admin community is a lot better than playing the cat and mouse game of developing an anti-cheat software.
That's like saying it's acceptable for innocent people to rot in prison as an acceptable price to pay for catching criminals.
Obviously this isn't as serious, but the comparison stands. Then again, I would argue that in an MMO context, banning a long-time player who's innocent could easily lead to their suicide.
>It’s often difficult to distinguish anti-cheat software from rootkits or spyware.
>It's unfortunate that it is necessary, ...
I don't think it is necessary. Virtually anything can be defeated, including invasive rootkits.
The best defense is simply updating the game on a regular basis, and in doing so changing up the game's internal data structures such that reversing it on any sort of ongoing basis becomes completely untenable.
To do this however, you would have to integrate anti-cheat into the very fabric of the software, and unfortunately nobody does this. Instead, anti-cheat is usually approached as a third-party add-on service after the fact.
Statistical analysis is another promising angle that's passive and has a very low false positive rate if used correctly.
In other words, a small amount of players end up fucked over because larger publishers are cheap and lazy.
With regards to the use of Linux, I suspect there’s more to this that DICE is unwilling to disclaim. Possibly that there’s a lack of ability to differentiate cheaters in Linux vs non-cheaters on a software level? DICE never officially supported Linux and stated what the requirements of the game were (Windows). However, I couldn’t find anything in their EULA or elsewhere about a platform requirement to use the software (maybe I overlooked it?). Regardless, the notice players are getting for their reason is due to cheat software so I think that may be irrelevant.
Can those people then get full refunds for any game they purchased? Because they're paying money for the game, which they are banned from playing.
I guess it's the Dunning-Kruger effect, where players think they're a lot better than they really are, so they can't imagine how someone can be _that_ much better than them.
IDK if it's still the same these days, but in BF2, 8 people in a squad all working together and doing their role within the squad could easily roll over 32 randoms on the other team.
Users will forever have the ability (and the right) to inspect the memory on their own machine.
bots for wow now run on a different machine to that of the game client, process the game's visual output and send inputs to the game client in the same way a human would
the only way you can detect this is heuristically
Consoles. I dropped PC in favor of Xbox/ps and won’t go back. Just NEVER having to deal with cheaters or people that buy more expensive hardware and/or drastically lower their settings for an advantage is well worth the lower visual fidelity.
I’ll take consoles because I can sit down and ENJOY the game.
It's too profitable to not be an inevitability.
On the other hand, maphackers totally counter risk-taking players who play secretive strategies like DT rush, DT drop, high-tech rushes, players who love big drops, hidden bases...players like that would get slaughtered by map hackers.
So, if you l2p, you'd be able to beat them with superior skills. Can't say the same for shooters, though, those games are ruined by hackers.
This is really depressing. I can't imagine working on an anti-cheat moderation team would be a pleasant job.
Typically, anti-cheat is separated into a frontend and a backend. The frontend becomes active at an enumerated set of events/criteria and collects data (screenshots, keystrokes, directory listings, process lists, results of memory scans, if instructed by the backend also memory contents or file contents) to the backend for further analysis.
These criteria are often ad-hoc (such as "if processes are running out of a user directory, capture them") and usually accumulate over time.
Detailed discussion of how cheats and anti-cheats work is somewhat lacking as all the experts on either side of the issue would prefer to keep their secrets. These days an anti-cheat team that's serious about their job will lurk cheat forums and even try to poach talent there.
Or, stop buying games that are essentially rootkits...
That will be hard part As far I as recall, this is not something you can easily do with common consumer hardware. Real GPU virtualization is not possible on classic GPUs, and workaround methods are a bit hacky.
(As far as I recall OC)
(Take this with a grain of salt, I have heard some very expensive hacks work like this through word of mouth)
Seems EA is doing —like a lot of very lazy anti-cheats— balls-simple stack inspection. They determine whether people are cheating by looking for known signed drivers, known hardware, known bad processes and input drivers. It's cheap and scales well but it's brainless. They have to know about a hack to detect it in the future. Version checks are constantly slackened off because legitimate updates come out all the time.
Battlefield is seeing Wine and the drivers Wine reports (which are a mix of real and fake) and baulking out. It's to be expected from such plastic anti-cheat software. Many games do this.
There are better options.
CSGO's overwatch allows the community to self-moderate by replaying a player's gameplay. They literally record the player's input and rebuild what the player could see in the reviewer's client. Reviewer determines whether or not their gameplay was possible. It sounds hardcore but it's simple, and adds no latency because it's done after-the-fact. Makes it super-simple to detect most wall-hacks and aim helpers.
So why isn't it everywhere? Logging data costs money. And EA, for all their moneybags are cheapskates.
And you could automate this. You could do a server-side render to determine whether or not a user is tracking players that are not physically visible to the player, or tracking impossibly tight hitboxes, or is triggering massive killcounts far too regularly (ie exploiting a bug). But that's more money.
But I'd expect a better response shouting into the wind than asking EA to be better. They're a trash company.
CS:GO is usually in the top 3 of most popular games on steam. Last time I checked, it was number 1. I would be surprised if Battlefield V has a quarter of the amount of players (across all platforms) versus CS:GO (which is just on PC).
I am not trying to make excuses for EA (Which has been nothing but a trash fire of a company for the last few years), but how could they justify putting those kind of resources behind a game like BFV?
Doing nothing, or doing the wrong thing has atrocious effects on the community. Just read some of the other threads in this post. Seasoned players who wait weeks for flagrant cheaters to be removed. It kills a game quickly.
Maybe that's actually what EA wants.
It does slightly come down to what sort of multiplayer experience you want. Budget in the temporary archiving of ranking multiplayer games. Sell it as a feature. It'll keep the whole thing ticking over a lot longer.
The review cost is nothing. Really. Communities love to self-police so giving them the tools to do it completely, or to a point where they can identify flagrant cheaters for paid mods to verify... It's the Stack Overflow model. It works.
Logging a rolling week's activity at that higher rate requires 53GB but you could dramatically reduce the burden by only keeping things with in-game reports and then deleting recordings after the last issue was dealt with.
My point is it's not nothing, but it's nothing by modern standards if you've got more than two brain cells to rub together.
If you only record player input: mouse movement, clicks and keystrokes, it should be much lower.
Technically you could record only the players' inputs but to play back such a recording, you would then have to deterministically reconstruct the entire match from all players' inputs. That's a bit more complicated than just replaying the local part of the simulation that your client already does with what data the server sends to players during normal course of gameplay.
oliwarner's numbers amount to about 45 bytes per frame per player, which is not unreasonable.
As I said, it's not nothing, but it's not bad.
Presumably to fulfill their end of their transactions? It’s not like the game is free; presumably you’re paying for something.
It also doesn’t launch on Linux for the same reason. Is at least a touch more user friendly than getting bans I guess.
To be honest, other than having better communication on the issue, I'm not sure how I'd handle this one differently than EA...
Some information in this talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObhK8lUfIlc
That's literally wrong, the gameplay you see in OW is not based on recorded inputs of the player's client. You are watching a demo recorded by the server, which does not match the PoV of the player precisely. The demos are also 32 tick, which makes it hard to tell if the aiming of the player is legit , unless they are very blatant about it. Due to interpolation and lag compensation the PoV that the player saw is not what you see in the server's demo. If you record the player's PoV using screen capture and compare it to the demo recorded by the server, there are subtle and sometimes relevant differences.
tl;dr OW is only there to catch obvious cheaters.
 Because the server runs at 64 tick, but the demo is only 32, the crosshair snaps every time a shot is taken. The aim of everyone looks way snappier and suspicious in a 32 tick demo compared to their PoV.
It was a slight simplification. You send your input to the server. Yes, filtered. Yes, not 1000Hz. But essentially what the client was doing. You could increase the resolution here but again, who's paying for it? I do agree that the rebuilt context is what the server saw, not what the user saw after network and screen latency, but we're talking about behavioural analysis.
And that's where I think you're flat out wrong. One kill could be a suspiciously-tracked headshot. But systems like this can compile hundreds of kills over dozens of matches from a single user. Its volume builds an accurate picture about whether a user is a cheater or not.
And it's a country mile better than games that have no repercussions for cheaters where the cheats haven't been detected by Gaming's answer to Norton AntiVirus 2003. Because zero-days still get by those.
(Edit: I'll also use my edit window to add that many servers run a lot faster than 64 - just as you can record at any speed you like - by Overwatch may be locked lower for disk space reasons)
> And that's where I think you're flat out wrong. One kill could be a suspiciously-tracked headshot. But systems like this can compile hundreds of kills over dozens of matches from a single user. Its volume builds an accurate picture about whether a user is a cheater or not.
I don't know what OW does behind the scenes. But you and I as "OW investigators" only get to see ~eight rounds of gameplay with no rewind button and make a "beyond reasonable doubt? Yes/No" decision.
I stand by what I said - OW is to catch obvious cheaters, not people who cheat subtly.
> (Edit: I'll also use my edit window to add that many servers run a lot faster than 64 - just as you can record at any speed you like - by Overwatch may be locked lower for disk space reasons)
Overwatch only applies to Valve MM (which is 64 tick); community servers and non-MM game modes are not subject to OW.
Not particularly correct. It only works for official matchmaking, because you will have your match game demo stored on Valve's server, for future reference to you maybe. Valve simply took advantage to replay these demo by allowing volunteering moderators to access the private demo and hiding the names of the others (but actually these name & steamid are accessable through cheat client); it does not record precise movement, as part of the engine limits, demos are sampled in 16 ticks, or 16fps that sometimes even creates wrong artifacts that misjudged people. You can see that in some pro CSGO matches there are some fishy kills but in fact thats due to 128 ticks -> 16 ticks illusions
The shocking part is that we've compiled a list of 380+ cheaters with video proofs and we've transmitted this list to some DICE community managers and employees. For a few months they checked this list from time to time and banned the offending people but they stopped looking at it entirely since around summer. We've tried to get in touch with other people but without any success.
The whole community is outraged by the apparent lack of care given to the cheating issues, and the fact that they seem to ignore all the reports made by the players through the platform Origin.
It seems a typical location has the same ip address for around 7 months and can indeed have the same address for far longer if your service isn't interrupted, you don't change or reboot networking hardware, and you don't try to connect to the game from your laptop at your friends house.
My current ISP in the UK and my previous one in France are changing IPs every few weeks or so in practice, or when the box is rebooted, or when the connection is lost for a while between the box and the ISP.
The game server would prevent many (most?) players by whitelisting IPs, but I bet they couldn't care less about blocking players or they wouldn't require whitelisting in the first place.
For something with the user population of a community game server you could also allow the full subnet and probably never run into a user collision.
But yes, people do still play the original Doom. There are a bunch of ports dedicated to it:
I haven't been this excited to play an old game in quite a while.
The only way to play the game is on a server with admins in the game 100% of the time, or at least votebans.
Companies let detected hacks slide silently and then do waves of mass bans to prevent hackers working out what exactly triggered the ban.
That cat and mouse game has moved well beyond a simple "omg why can't ea ban this obv hack"
And TBH you're complaining about 380 people which is a drop in a bucket compare to the number of players on that game, yes cheating sucks but I can assure you there are people actively working on that problem at DICE.
Other EA games use other anticheat tools for example Apex Legends uses Easy Anti-Cheat, which is much more efficient to track and ban cheaters.
> And TBH you're complaining about 380 people which is a drop in a bucket compare to the number of players on that game
The Firestorm mode has so few players now (I estimate 3-10 games running in parallel in the world depending on the time) that it has a huge negative impact on the game. You only need 1 cheater in a game to ruin it for everyone else.
> Sure we defunded it, but look how crappy it is! Nobody uses it! Guess we don't need it.
I agree about the GOP though.
There are no circumstances where it makes sense to ignore player-submitted video proof of cheating. This should always be acted on quickly to reassure legitimate players and scare cheaters off.
Cheaters know there are different ways to get banned. When one gets caught rage-hacking (abusing cheats in a flagrant manner, without any effort to conceal their cheating) and they return to warn the hive, all it does is discourage other cheaters from rage-hacking. Very few cheaters will do something that they know will get them banned quickly
So they used in game mechanics that abused how the bots are known to operate; where certain dialog boxes pop and how they move and react to threats; to force the bot to join a group, accept being teleported, and then they sacrificed another of the groups score to drag down the bots score.
the current comment thread includes the cynic but likely true claim that blizzard would ban these players for harassment before banning the bot for cheating/breaking eula
And if the net result of that strategy is that it catches many fewer cheaters? That wouldn't make much sense, and the community, far from being reassured, would be more frustrated because they would encounter many more instances of cheating that occurred because players were able to deduce the loop holes.
You have to balance "catch the most cheaters" vs. "catch cheating immediately". Especially when it may take many instances of suspicious behavior to make a confident decision to ban.
Google it. All the major companies do hax bans in wave patterns. Valve, blizzard etc
>There are no circumstances where it makes sense to ignore player-submitted video proof of cheating.
Agreed. Not sure why you're bring it up though. I wasnt talking about user submitted anything???
Then, respectfully... what did you think you were responding to? That's pretty much entirely what the OP & thread are about :-)
The part I was quoting. OP wrote multiple paragraphs.
I mean we can argue about whether "the state of anticheat on this game is absolutely horrific" refers to automated or reports but given article I was pretty certain the section I quote was automated. Anticheat is generally not understood to mean manual reports as best as I can tell. Its the well anticheat software
Besides the Linux bans are probably not user reports Driven..
That's the thing though. Good games (CS comes to mind) do have some sort of ability to have human intervention.
Building a hack that can't be detected isn't easy, but it's also not _that_ hard with determination.
The OP you responded to was talking about that. That's the context of the conversation. Of the cheaters not getting banned; of those bans not happening in waves.
>The shocking part is that we've compiled a list of 380+ cheaters with video proofs and we've transmitted this list to some DICE community managers and employees
1. Person A talks about submitting videos of hackers and being ignored.
2. Person B says that "detected hacks" are acted on in waves as part of arms race with hackers, says nothing of "user-submitted", instead generalizes about "detected hacks".
3. Person C gets uppity about companies ignoring hacks, irrespective of the potentially-valid reason as mentioned by person B.
4. Person B insists that the bans happens in waves. Says he wasn't talking about "user-submitted" stuff as he was talking in generalities.
5. Person D jumps in says "thread is absolutely about user-submitted stuff".
I paraphrased and generalized too for a bit of dramatic effect, but the thread is definitely broken and if someone stares at it for a bit, they would probably see how it went bad and that probably no one is technically wrong.
6. Person E jumps in with meta-commentary about the discussion that led to this point.
The problem with this strategy is that it virtually guarantees that cheaters will get to have multiple months of fun before they get banned.
Discouraging someone from doing a destructive behavior requires preventing it when it happens. You need consistent, immediate enforcement. If you get banned the same day you start cheating, then that's a discouragement. If you're guaranteed a few months of fun on an alt account, then that's an encouragement.
There’s also not much functional difference between banning as soon as a cheat is detected in the population and banning a few weeks later. Some players will have just started using it and others will have been using it for months unless it was found as soon as it was released.
The discouragement comes from losing progress, losing money (potentially having to rebuy an account and find and buy a new cheat) and distrust in the cheat author.
The downside to banning already detected cheats immediately is that cheat authors have a nice simple, repeatable test to see if their cheat is still detectable which makes development much more straightforward for them.
I could see waiting to ban a wave of people if you also release an update that addresses the exploit being used. But I don't know that I have ever seen that be the case. The hacks that existed before the ban wave are often equally effective if not the same exact cheats as the ones being used after the ban wave. The author updates a bit of detection bypass code, and they are done.
So if it's intentional, it's not a very effective methodology in my experience.
It isn’t. An anticheat that bans months late is as good as no anticheat at all.
You don't know.