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Left 4 Dead Bug Patched Quickly, EVE Exploit Takes 4 Years 157

Posted by Soulskill
from the fast-and-not-so-fast dept.
Earlier this week, news surfaced that some savvy modders of Valve's Left 4 Dead were able to find a way to enable console commands (meant for the PC version) in the Xbox 360 version of the game. This allowed players to increase the size of their character models to ridiculous proportions, spawn unlimited weapons for themselves (or unlimited enemies for other, unsuspecting players), and go around the map deleting objects as they saw fit. A video posted on YouTube showed how to enable the commands. Valve reacted swiftly to the issues, releasing a patch to disable access to the commands a few days later. Several readers have pointed out another exploit-related story which broke recently; in EVE Online, a bug that was reported and went un-patched for four years has recently come to light, apparently responsible for the fraudulent creation of trillions of ISK, the game's currency. An anonymous reader says that (illegitimate) sales of ISK between players and farmers run on the order of $35 per 450 million ISK.
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Left 4 Dead Bug Patched Quickly, EVE Exploit Takes 4 Years

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  • by powerspike (729889) on Friday December 12, 2008 @06:48AM (#26088121)
    when you spend 40 hours a week in a high stress job, and you want to play a game, sometimes spending $20 to get what you want, instead of spending 1/2 of your weekend "earning" it, can seem very tempting....
  • by tolan-b (230077) on Friday December 12, 2008 @06:49AM (#26088129)

    There is an in-game market. Why wouldn't there be speculators?

  • by PincusJr (1310977) on Friday December 12, 2008 @07:08AM (#26088255)
    G'day, I'd like to point out that Valve isn't usually this quick. Take for example Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, the multiplayer component for the famous single player game. http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=248425 [steampowered.com] http://www.halflife2.net/forums/showthread.php?t=76660 [halflife2.net] These two links list quite a few bugs. There hasn't be a decent update for HL2: DM in about 2 fucking years.
  • by Dunbal (464142) on Friday December 12, 2008 @07:32AM (#26088365)

    Market speculators in a game. It's a fucking game for c'sake, not a damn country/government.

          To each their own. Some people like shooting creatures from hell when playing a game called Doom, some people like moving medieval armies around a chessboard, and some people like speculating in make believe markets. All of them are GAMES. If you don't like it, don't play it. I'm amazed at your delusions of grandeur that let you think you are God's One and Only Game Censor, and can decide which games are Worthy and which games are Not.

          Short version: no one cares if you don't like EVE. Go play your shooter and leave us alone.

  • Re:I understand... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kneo24 (688412) on Friday December 12, 2008 @08:27AM (#26088707) Homepage
    It's actually quite useful to see certain things that you normally can't see. A lot of times you can't see your choke, ping, FPS, movement speed, etc... Just the diagnostic information alone is nice. If I'm lagging really bad, I'd like to try and figure out why, not blame just outright blame it on the server.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 12, 2008 @08:37AM (#26088771)

    Poor comparison.

    There is 1 hardware configuration for a Nintendo. The developer develops to it and it is done.

    There are probably a billion hardware configurations for a PC. Impossible to test everything.

  • by fitten (521191) on Friday December 12, 2008 @09:21AM (#26089103)

    As the other poster said, Eve's market is huge. Ships, ammo, as well as lots of modules for ships (and lots of other stuff including *all* tech2 items) are made by players. The market is quite large so it's easy to do speculation, provided you have in-game money. The prices of the raw materials for tech2 item production are getting rarer? Well... that's going to mean the prices of tech2 items are likely to increase. So, buy a bunch off the market right now in the hopes that prices will go up and you'll get a nice profit, just for waiting a few weeks.

  • by zysus (123604) on Friday December 12, 2008 @09:26AM (#26089141) Homepage

    You are missing a key point here, something that embedded developers understand. It is much easier to support software on 1 platform, where you have complete control. (Such as a console)
    On a PC you have thousands of hardware and driver configurations, other conflicting pieces of software that you may or may not know about, library versions. All kinds of unknowns. It is a whole different beast.

  • by Goaway (82658) on Friday December 12, 2008 @09:31AM (#26089197) Homepage

    If you spend 40 hours a week in a high stress job, maybe you shouldn't play a game that is another job.

  • On this Eve bash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khallow (566160) on Friday December 12, 2008 @09:59AM (#26089437)

    I play the game, Eve and there's a bunch of hate going on for the developers, CCP as a result of this bug. I think the bashing of CCP is excessive, but it's worth considering why it might have happened.

    First, much has been made of the claim that CCP "knew" about the exploit. Why has this assertion been made? Because the exploit in question was "petitioned", that is, someone complained about the exploit to an ingame admin some time four years ago. I gather this was reported multiple times in the same way though it's hard to figure out who's telling the truth. But what is the petition proces for? Resolving an ingame problem with a user. If the user is ok with the outcome ("I have free stuff!") and isn't currently cheating, then I gather the petition is closed. So one possibility for the failure is simply that the exploit never got reported as a bug either by players or by the admins handling the problems. I wouldn't be surprised, if the admins never bothered either because it wasn't their job (since the bug wasn't resulting in actions that required immediate admin correction) or because that part of the game was notoriously buggy.

    Now as I understand it, the bug is as follows. There is something called a "player owned station" or "POS". You start by anchoring something called a control tower which for our purposes can only be anchored in a fixed number of spots, one per "moon" in the game (my SWAG is hundred thousand locations). Near that tower, you can anchor other POS structures. Some are for defense. One is to extract a resource "moon minerals". You can attach factories, drug labs, asteroid ore refineries. The most important structures are (chemical) reactors. You store various moon mineral resources and reactor products in "silos". The reactors take input products from some silos and dump the output in other silos. Think of it like a flow chart made of industrial widgets. There are two layers of reactions known as "simple" and "complex". Every moon mineral (of which there are maybe 15-20 types) goes through a simple reaction (where it is combined with another moon mineral) and then a complex reaction (where the resulting simple reaction product is combined with 1-3 other simple reaction products).

    Economically, most of the value coming out of reactions comes out of the second layer of reactions. The reactors for complex reactions are bigger and most POS can only handle one such reactor. That often means that a chain of reactions can spread over half a dozen reactors or more. The really efficient corporations (Eve equivalent of guilds) can run dozens of these things to generate all the reaction products that the Eve markets consume. That's if you do it the fair way.

    Eve like many such games has a one hour downtime. Some enterprising players apparently discovered that one can manipulate a single reactor so that over downtime it fills the output silo with the desired reaction product even though no input material was used. Normally it takes a week or longer in real time to fill that silo and you need to fill the input silos with the appropriate materials. The complex reactions, being the more valuable ones and the final product of POS reactions (which would immediately be bought by manufacturers), were the ones that were exploited. Certain moon minerals were far more scarce than others. In fact, it was to the point that a lot of the game activity centered on controling sources of those moon minerals. This was all bypassed by creating the complex reaction products that had the valuable moon minerals in them.

    For your edification, here's a screenshot [scrapheap-challenge.com] halfway down the page showing a control tower (the big vertical thing), a bunch of silos (9 of them present along with a "coupling silo" which looks identical, meant to buffer the flow of output product), and two reactors (on the far left), one complex and one simple. "Online" means it is active and able to do something. "Anchor

  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Friday December 12, 2008 @10:04AM (#26089503)

    This is the dumbest thing I have ever read.

    It just shows you have no idea about game development.

  • by Chabil Ha' (875116) on Friday December 12, 2008 @10:05AM (#26089513)

    The decision to release buggy software often does not lie in the hands of the developer, but the business paying the developer. In many cases, bugs and vulnerabilities are well known, but a business decision is made to release anyway.

  • by mrgreenfur (685860) on Friday December 12, 2008 @11:12AM (#26090437)
    Good points. But this won't last for long as games get more complex and consoles get internet enabled for post-release patching.
  • Re:Pathetic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Friday December 12, 2008 @11:49AM (#26091067)
    I'm sure the problem is that 90% of the people on consoles aren't computer savvy enough to get that. In my opinion if you have a PC and a console, you're going to get the PC version just because the mouse is so much better for gaming. So the sorts of people on the console or that prefer it won't necessarily be the sorts that "get" what's going on. Particularly if the person "cheating" is just using it to send endless hoards in versus while they're infected and then they turn it off when they're survivor. In my example if someone doesn't know the people he's playing with it just looks like the other team is hacking to send endless zombies at you.

    If the console works the same as the PC there's no way to choose between dedicated games and locally hosted games... so you have no way (aside from joining friends) of controlling whether you join a game that allows "cheats" or not. I think this is something valve needs to fix on both platforms. It's pretty easy to host a game locally and then jack around with the people that join your game without them realizing it.
  • Re:Pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fastest fascist (1086001) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:25PM (#26091665)
    The problem with server-side variables in L4D is that with matchmaking you have no way of knowing if you're connecting to a vanilla server or some 4chan hellhole. Of course allowing the user to filter out servers that allow cheats should be trivial, but as it is the matchmaking system doesn't let you do that.
  • by Kneo24 (688412) on Friday December 12, 2008 @12:45PM (#26091953) Homepage

    Today, that is still the case with consoles.

    That is not true. Console games are having these issues now too. Fable II, Fallout 3, GTAIV, and the list goes on.

  • by harl (84412) on Friday December 12, 2008 @01:30PM (#26092653)

    One who failed to notice that starbase production output of widgets was significantly more than is mathematically possible with the number of moons that possessed the raw material needed for widgets.

    He compiles trivia after the fact. He's a statistician and nothing more.

  • by Jedi Alec (258881) on Friday December 12, 2008 @05:27PM (#26096135)

    And if someone else tries to manipulate the markets as well, you can pay people to blow him out of the sky...bit harder to do on Wall Street? :P

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