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Console Cheating


Sam P
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With the arrival of Counter-Strike on Xbox, there was a bit of talk about the decreased potential of cheating.

 

Apart from finding bugs/exploits inherent to the programming of a title, are there any ways to 'hack' a console game when playing online? This applies to both the PS2 and Xbox.

 

Does anyone know? My logic tells me that's very difficult simply because there is no permanent data stored for a particular game on consoles, aside from your save files. It's easy to cheat on PC games because you're basically free to mess around with the files installed on your HDD.

 

Thoughts?

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are there any ways to 'hack' a console game when playing online?

 

I know the PS2 used to be a haven for those cheating with the GameShark/Action Replay etc.

 

With the closed nature of Xbox Live, there is less outright "cheating", if any at all, but there are people that use glitches, etc to exploit a title (MotoGP 2, etc.).

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Does anyone know? My logic tells me that's very difficult simply because there is no permanent data stored for a particular game on consoles, aside from your save files. It's easy to cheat on PC games because you're basically free to mess around with the files installed on your HDD.

 

And that's still a problem on the Xbox with its HD. For example, PSO was rife with cheaters who manipulated the PSO save files on the HD. The same thing will happen with other games that don't treat the HD as "unsafe storage" - ie devs have to expect any file they read from HD as being "unsafe" & do extra validation.

 

I've heard reports of people already downloading save games for PGR2 that unlock every car.

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With Xbox there is a lot of potential for cheating in games where offline single player saves affect online content and capabilities. Aside from PSO I think thats as far as it has gone on Xbox (not counting game glitches).

 

PS2 online seems to be another story though. With Action Replays/Gamesharks/Codebreakers the online games for PS2 have become a regular hangout for cheaters. Infinite ammo, no reload codes just to name a few of the tons of codes are a real plague on Socom.

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If Counter-Strike is a direct port, it's not a matter of if, but when, it'll get hacked.

I know nobody around here really plays Wolfenstein anymore, so you may not know that it's been hacked, cracked, attacked and pimp-smacked. There are servers running 32 or 64 players, low-gravity, infinite power meter (health packs, airstrikes, etc.), people have colored nicknames and my favorite :x, people that if you kill them or they kill you, your Xbox FREEZES UP!

I also have first-hand experience of what I can only call an aimbot in RTCW. Quick story: I was making the rounds in "Village" with a teammate who was GOOD (I'm no slouch either ;)) and we come across this person in a hallway who fires TWO SHOTS from an MP40! One kills my teammate , the other kills me.

I really don't have a problem with certain hacks as long as everybody can "enjoy" them. Like low-gravity or infinite power meters. But I can't stomach the malicious hacks like having someone's Xbox freeze or aimbots or wall hacks. I just don't even see the point.

Oh well, it's like I always say: if there's some way to f*ck up a good time, some asshat will find it. :?

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In 'Return to Castle Wolfenstein', somebody came up with game saves that allow major cheating (flying, walking through walls, etc). I hear these save files can be passed around via memory card; you don't even need a mod chip (which could be used to manipulate/replace save files on the hard drive).

 

Ultimately, devs may have to encrypt the save files (both on HD and memory card). Yes, the file system has encryption but since that is cracked there is really need for additional encryption. This would not be 100% safe but it would help. But Wolfenstein likely wasn't designed the best in terms of how it processed save data that it reads...probably allows things to overflow into places they don't belong. So there is more work that can be done there, too.

 

The main protection of Live is that it can verify the signature of the executables (the game itself, dashboard, etc) that are communicating with the service. So at this point, it is save data and game data that are the main concerns (that, and simple exploitable glitches, just like tons of offline and online games have had for decades).

 

The important thing to note is that XBox online is far more cheat-free than the PC online environment.

 

Supposedly some of the new online PS2 games can verify, to some degree, if the game itself has been tampered with in RAM (gameshark/AR).

 

EDIT: Counterstrike will not be anywhere near as vulnerable as Wolfenstein if the devs did a lot of homework and acted on it. Starting point is to have the game provide for any amount of data in a game save, and of any format. And if the save isn't encrypted, have hard-coded rules about exactly what is allowed in the save data and what is not. That is, trap for overflows and validate your data.

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Originally posted by MrMike@Nov 17 2003, 01:55 PM

Apart from finding bugs/exploits inherent to the programming of a title

 

That is also cheating. Just because a bug exists doesn't mean the user should take advantage of the bug to gain the upperhand in a online multiplayer game.

Bullshit. If it's in the game, that is it's native code, it's not cheating.

If it's easier to hit a homerun in a ballpark with a shallow outfield that's not considered cheating. If the infield grass is grown long to slow infield hits in favor of the home team it's not cheating.

 

Players are free to exploit any element in the game to their advantage. It's only when they bring outside elements into the game (hacks, cracks, codes, etc.) that it's cheating.

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Players are free to exploit any element in the game to their advantage. It's only when they bring outside elements into the game (hacks, cracks, codes, etc.) that it's cheating.

 

So in the original MotoGP, people found they can go through a wall on a particualr track, that isn't considered cheating? :roll:

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Players are free to exploit any element in the game to their advantage. It's only when they bring outside elements into the game (hacks, cracks, codes, etc.) that it's cheating.

 

So I guess its ok if someone finds a spot in a corner of a wall where there is a gap but its not visible but they can fire through it killing someone on the other side? Or how about walking on ceilings? Walking through walls? Doing a certain combination of menus to automagically fully recharge health or attack points?

 

If it's easier to hit a homerun in a ballpark with a shallow outfield that's not considered cheating. If the infield grass is grown long to slow infield hits in favor of the home team it's not cheating.

 

Those also aren't "bugs" in the game of baseball. Those are strategies that don't break any of the rules. Comparing bugs in software to something in real life will never be valid comparisons. Real life games have their bugs worked out already.

 

Its called playing fair. Just because a game lets you get a cheap kill because of a glitch doesn't mean you have to take advantage of it to gain the upper hand. That just proves that you couldn't win by skill but have to rely on cheap tricks. Bugs and glitches are not skill. Playing online with and against friends is all about having fun and competition. But if one of my friends started using map or game glitches to gain the upper hand you'd be sure they wouldn't be invited back and would be branded a cheater.

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First of all, let's not lose our heads here. Since this is (apparently) a subject that people are emotional about, let me remind everyone that our goal here is mature discussion.

 

That said, I do believe that analogies to baseball or other sports are a little weak given the provided examples.

 

Let us make a few distinctions. Feel free to correct or expand my thoughts here. We aren't just talking about cheating, some people are also talking about exploits.

 

When it comes to exploits, I think the key difference between videogames and, for example, baseball, is the notion that an exploit in a videogame is there because someone made a mistake or missed something in such a way as to substantially unbalance the game.

 

Here's another term: good sportsmanship. Like many standards, it changes in its context and by the group applying it. Most of my group, for example, frowned upon spawn camping in the original GR, but not in RTCW.

 

The upshot of this is that when it comes to exploits, remember the "when in Rome" saying.

 

And let's remember to practice good sportsmanship in this topic.

 

-j

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I agree with what you said J. I'm certain the designers of MotoGP didn't put the wall glitch there. Furthermore, I'm certain the game is based on rules of the real MotoGP sport. Racing in real MotoGP doesn't allow you to go through walls (you'd die ;) ) and further move, cutting corners where you travel on the grass would get you disqualified.

 

The corner cutting on grass made the game so unplayable for me. Everyone would cut corners. To me, that was cheating. If I turned up the offroad percentage, nobody would join the game because they couldn't cheat. Plus it made the game more difficult (which is good if you strive for realism), because if you did accidentally go off-road, you'd wipeout.

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I think this topic really stresses the importance of having a known group of people to play games with online.

 

Exploits may not be cheats but its still taking advantage of something that wasn't intended. And if someone wants to use them thats fine but you won't catch me playing with them.

 

I'd like to think that it will be harder to have cheats on xbox but I'm sure like many of you have said its only a manner of time. As long as the game companies will attempt to fight them it should be fine though for the most part. Granted we may have to redo all our high scores from time to time but thats the nature of the beast.

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Counterstrike will not be anywhere near as vulnerable as Wolfenstein if the devs did a lot of homework and acted on it.
There's a whole mess of IF in that statement. But time will tell...

Personally, I like going head-up with people to have fun and to compete to see how good I am compared to others. Cheating or using bugs/glitches/exploits pretty much negates the reason I play online, so I can't stand it. Let's put everybody on (more or less ;)) equal ground and may the best person win.

But alas, in VideogameLand, people will use ANY means to win. What's the point? I want to know I beat you fair and square, not because I'm using some kind of cheat or exploit. It just takes the fun out of it.

I'll take it one step further and say that I don't like the "unbalanced" weapons in most games. Right now it's the M82A1 .50 cal. sniper rifle in R6 3, which people run around with ALL day long 'cause it's easy to get ONE SHOT kills. Before that it was the Panzer in RTCW. Before that it was the Mad Cat in MechAssault. And before that the lightning gun in Unreal, even though I liked using it :oops:. Sure, they're part of the game, and as such you're free to use them, but I think they're CHEAP.

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Ballpark dimensions are an intentional design attribute. Glitches are not.

 

Like it or not "glitches" are part of the game.

What is a "game"? It's a series of rules defined by a specific medium geared toward gaining an end. Every element in a video game is part of those game rules. If the developer failed to fully define a "rule" by leaving "glitches" (intentionally or otherwise) they are still part of the game. If I can rack up kills by exploiting a "rule" lacking clear definition I am still playing within the realm of the game. It may be dishonorable or cheap sportsmanship but I don't think it's at all fair to call it cheating.

However, once I bring outside tools to improve my game I am cheating.

 

That said, I do believe that analogies to baseball or other sports are a little weak given the provided examples.

 

I can't disagree more. The design of the seating down the left field foul line at Wrigley Field may have lost the NLCS for the Cubs this year. Everything that happened when that fan fairly obstructed the ball had a direct effect upon the outcome of that game. It didn't seem fair to Cubs fans just as it doesn't seem fair to you when you get killed by a guy whose video game environment allows him to shoot through walls. Yet both events occur because the rules of the game define them as possible (and yes, ballpark design is dictated to some extent by baseball rules).

 

Its called playing fair. Just because a game lets you get a cheap kill because of a glitch doesn't mean you have to take advantage of it to gain the upper hand. That just proves that you couldn't win by skill but have to rely on cheap tricks. Bugs and glitches are not skill. Playing online with and against friends is all about having fun and competition. But if one of my friends started using map or game glitches to gain the upper hand you'd be sure they wouldn't be invited back and would be branded a cheater.

 

You're speaking about "your rules" or the rules you and your friends play by. That's fine but it's not the same as playing by the rules of the game. It's totally cool to call a person who breaks "your rules" a cheater but I don't think it correct to label a player a cheater who is not aware of your honor/value/rule system.

 

 

So in the original MotoGP, people found they can go through a wall on a particualr track, that isn't considered cheating?

 

Nope. It may be poor sportsmanship to take advantage of this element of the game but it's not cheating unless you (and your competitors) agree it's against your own rule set. If it's part of the game it's part of the game.

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If it's part of the game it's part of the game.

 

I think that unfairly excuses unintentional coding glitches that people can take advantage of. I don't think asking people in a purportedly realistic racing game to not pull a Nightcrawler and drive straight through walls is neither unreasonable nor something people should start doing just because they can.

 

Just because something is part of the game doesn't mean the developers intended it to be part of the game, and in that sense if they did not intend for people to use it and they do, I would personally consider that cheating irregardless of whether they have to seek an outside source to enable it.

 

If one person knows how to do this and everybody else doesn't, how exactly is that playing fair in terms of racing? It's like starting one group off to complete a circuit and then telling one guy they can just back their vehicle over the finish line and win.

 

It's a series of rules defined by a specific medium geared toward gaining an end.

 

Exactly. And if it says anyplace in the game or manual that you are able to shoot through walls, jump 50 feet in the air, or phase through matter then that's fine. And if it doesn't, then I think it's fair to consider people who do in turn do those things as cheating.

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Nope. It may be poor sportsmanship to take advantage of this element of the game but it's not cheating unless you (and your competitors) agree it's against your own rule set. If it's part of the game it's part of the game.

 

You say "element of the game" as if it was something intended to be there (like cycle speed or handling stats), when clearly it should not.

 

Seems like we're talking semantics here, some call it cheating others call it poor sportsmanship, either way, it ruins the online gaming experience for all the people who want to be rewarded on their skills at PLAYING THE GAME not on their skills at hacking or glitch exploitation.

 

 

Cheers.

J.

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Nope. It may be poor sportsmanship to take advantage of this element of the game but it's not cheating unless you (and your competitors) agree it's against your own rule set. If it's part of the game it's part of the game.

 

Let's look at the some of the definitions of cheating from dictionary.com:

 

To deceive by trickery;

To deprive by trickery;

To mislead;

 

To act dishonestly; practice fraud.

To violate rules deliberately, as in a game

 

Going through the wall in MotoGP is deceiving by trickery to fellow racers. It's also violating rules of the sport of MotoGP deliberately. It also misleads fellow racers into thinking one has a better lap time.

 

All the above clearly points to cheating as defined above, and thats within the limits of the game.

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Does everyone remember the original question?

 

Apart from finding bugs/exploits inherent to the programming of a title, are there any ways to 'hack' a console game when playing online?

 

I understand and agree with the notion that topics should be allowed to develop organically. Still, I'm having trouble understanding what this discussion and disagreement is about.

 

Surely it isn't over whether using exploits is the same as cheating? I know -- to some degree -- most of the people who are in this topic. And I know that those people aren't interested in spending time arguing over definitions, unless it led to quality discussion.

 

So what discussion is this leading to?

 

-j

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