How to catch a Cheater

John Cox, a development manager at Mythic, tells a short story about how they catch cheaters.

First off, what type of hacking am I talking about here?  In this case I’m talking about third party programs that allow players to do things in the game world with their characters that wouldn’t normally be allowed, or even possible.

The first thing we do is get involved covertly.  Believe it or not, any of you hackers out there, we’re members of your online communities, sometimes silently listening, sometimes actively participating.  The best place to figure out what hackers are trying and what they’ve figured out about us is to hide among them.  In some cases we go so far as to get the hacks and use them internally in a controlled space in order to develop responses to them.  Second, our CS department observes players and reports on odd activities so we can investigate further. Third, we get word-of-mouth reports about suspicious behavior from other players and business partners.

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If you have ever thought about cheating, that’s great.  Made a hack (or bot)… even greater! If you’ve released it publicly or given it away for free… not so great.

I want to point out one very important aspect.  It’s one I have been familiar since 2001 about, when Turbine tried to get into my forums, ac-exploiters… “The first thing we do is get involved covertly.  Believe it or not, any of you hackers out there, we’re members of your online communities, sometimes silently listening, sometimes actively participating.  The best place to figure out what hackers are trying and what they’ve figured out about us is to hide among them.

They be a watchin!  I suppose the best way to make sure someone is one of us, would be to simply ask them to contribute with information that can be verified, before they are given access to the hack.  Or perhaps simply find a small core of people make them each program a routine, test it out for a month or so, and see if you get banned.  If you don’t then assume it’s safe.

A couple years back, Blizzard pulled a really nasty trick on some of us.  If we were using a hack called InnerSpace, we downloaded a special patch. None of us knew about it, but it ended up waiting for us to use the hack, and then banning us.  My wife was really pissed when I got her banned, lol.

The thing I actually don’t like about game hackers, isn’t so much the hacking, but using it to pwn peeps in PvP.  I once saw a level 20, take out a level 65.  It was in Asheron’s Call, and while many of you don’t know the game, you can understand what I mean, when I say that this shouldn’t happen unless the other person didn’t try to fight back, they were afk, or any other number of things… but the guy was there, he wasn’t afk, he did try to fight back.  Hacking the game is one thing, but using it like that, showing off, is both stupid, and wrong.  The only consolation I have is when you get banned for it, you definitely deserved it.

What I really detest, is what can come after that… using it to actually hack people’s accounts.  If you don’t already know it, I am against account hacking.  It usually ends up with people getting hurt, and can even lead to death.  Yes, death.  When someone loses their account, that they worked so hard to level, it can lead to depression and from there, several paths can lead the wrong way.  I have used so many hacks and bots over the years, that I don’t do it on my personal accounts anymore.  However my WoW account is now on #11.  That means that the first 10 accounts were banned or lost.  Now whenever I want to test a hack or a bot, I pull out a spare account (I have many of them), and use that to test things.

Do you have a story, you can share about a game hacker that pwned you, or a story about using a game hack? Write a response.

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