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BF3 devs hiring “anti-cheat admin”

January 30, 2012

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I refuse to play multiplayer online shooters.

They admitted in an earlier post that Punk Buster simply doesn’t work. My experience with PB has been terrible, at best. It tends to lock me out of games and kick me due to syncing issues, and version conflict between servers and my PC.

I honestly don’t think there’s ever going to be a way around online hacking, especially in FPS games. I hate to keep bringing this issue up, but I feel like I’m otherwise missing out on what had formerly been one of my favorite aspects of gaming, all because I really can’t stand cheating in online games. I have zero tolerance for it in competitive online games – it really sucks the joy out of them.

Looking back on it, I’m both surprised by how prevalent it was when I first saw it in action (1999-2000 Counter Strike beta days), and how I could have never noticed it in the first place. Likewise, I’m shocked it took me this long to “catch on” to how common cheating is in shooters.

Granted, there are some exceptionally talented gamers out there, but I can speak from a point of experience that many (if not most) of the “incredibly good players” are unabashed hackers and aimbotters. Back in 1999 a few friends encouraged me to install a few hacks, just to see what they are like. I was very hesitant, but watching their scores double or triple in matches, I wondered what the fuss was about and installed a few basic hacks. The first thing that I noticed after trying wall hacks, model hacks (first generation “ESP”), and aimbots back in 1999, was it allowed me to spot hackers. You could see player behavior when they thought other players weren’t looking. Aim-“snapping”, following through walls, and reacting to player movements far beyond sound and visible range were quick tip-offs to other hackers.

It became an arms race just to break even with the other hackers. Continually better model hacks, better aim bots, and other hacks were almost required, given that no less than 1/3rd of the players (often times upwards of 2/3rds) of the players that I encountered in CS beta were using various combinations of online cheats. The honest, legitimate game of CS was left behind, as the cheat metagame surfaced, where game hackers tried to outdo each other while playing “legit enough” whenever server admins surfaced. That’s when I realized I wasn’t having fun with the game anymore. In less than a few weeks of “cheating to keep up with the cheaters” I wasn’t playing the game by the designed mechanics, and it was more of a chore than it was entertaining.

Since then, the only time I have played CS was at “internet cafes” in Europe.

After returning to the US in 2005, I had entirely forgotten about cheats, and had discovered the Battlefield series. Scores and player performance seemed lopsided in BF42, but it didn’t bother me enough to even remember were as common as they were. It wasn’t until BF2142 that I started to notice a bit more players that seemed to have quasi-god-like aiming and foreknowledge of player positions… and I googled “Battlefield 2142 cheat”. Good lord. I was blown away by how common cheats were. I honestly had faith in Punk Buster and Valve Anti-Cheat… I was so disappointed to see how easy these cheats were to find, and how common they were in game. That was on top of the various game-breaking bugs and exploits of BF2142.

Anyway – this is becoming a rant about online shooters, which I guess I kind of intended – but it’s not as much because the games are bad, but cheating is so common.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen cheating in RTS games and in non-competitive games, but it seems to suck the life out of FPSes much moreso than it does other games from other genres.

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