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Valve's Battle Against Cheaters 336

wjousts writes "IEEE Spectrum takes a look behind the scenes at Valve's on-going efforts to battle cheaters in online games: 'Cheating is a superserious threat,' says [Steam's lead engineer, John] Cook. 'Cheating is more of a serious threat than piracy.' The company combats this with its own Valve Anti-Cheat System, which a user consents to install in the Steam subscriber agreement. Cook says the software gets around anti-virus programs by handling all the operations that require administrator access to the user's machine. So, how important is preventing cheating? How much privacy are you willing to sacrifice in the interests of a level playing field? 'Valve also looks for changes within the player's computer processor's memory, which might indicate that cheat code is running.'"
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Valve's Battle Against Cheaters

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Friday February 19, 2010 @04:20AM (#31196632)

    What all these anti-cheating efforts fail to realize is that cheating is an integral part of the game, especially in computer gaming. Given that such a cheat can be performed by anyone, the playing field is *always* level in the aggregate. By removing actions that they consider cheating, they are removing key gameplay elements and ultimately changing the face of the game.

    Additionally, it says a lot that they must resort to installing what is essentially a rootkit just to make sure someone isn't taking advantage of superior technology or extra knowledge. If these games are so unplayable with cheating enabled, perhaps the designers shouldn't have put those features in.

    Crippling superior players is Communism.

  • by FSWKU ( 551325 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @04:28AM (#31196680)
    "Superserious" is one step below "superserial" which is, of course, a description reserved solely for the dreaded Manbearpig. That alone should tell you how much of a threat online cheating really is. It might not threaten us all as severely as Manbearpig, but that doesn't mean it won't kill you in your sleep. The sooner we stop online cheating, the sooner we become one step closer to defeating Manbearpig....

  • Re:Privacy? (Score:4, Funny)

    by phoenix321 ( 734987 ) * on Friday February 19, 2010 @08:03AM (#31197794)

    A chemo for the cancer that is killing TF2? - I'm in :)

    BF2 Project Reality does similar things, I think. Once in a while I see something flickering at the side of the screen for a single frame or so. I guess an aimbot would trigger and react instantly while a human player wouldn't even notice unless camp^w tactically waiting somewhere for a while.

    This mod has been out for several years and they probably won't leave any visible graphics glitch in there if it was a mistake. The server code is not freely downloadable and obscurity is probably one of the reasons for it.

  • by Draek ( 916851 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @10:32AM (#31198916)

    Which is why I only play local multiplayer and break my opponents' fingers off with a hammer. If God hadn't intended me to cheat as such, He wouldn't have made people so squishy. Or they could've shown up in full-body armor, though I guess that wouldn't save them from my 'welding torch' backup solution.

  • by twidarkling ( 1537077 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @02:12PM (#31201824)

    Late in the life? Cheating happened almost instantly on D1. It took me over a year to find out that the Grandfather wasn't actually 1-handed.

  • Re:Privacy? (Score:3, Funny)

    by twidarkling ( 1537077 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @02:40PM (#31202092)

    No no, it makes perfect sense.

    You see, these "Games" are for kids. After all, only kids play games. So, anyone who corrupts that experience is obviously a predator, aiming at taking away the innocence of these children, and they're doing nothing more than virtually molesting the poor children by cheating at these games.

    Obviously we mustn't stop cheaters, but save the children just by banning games completely! Otherwise your children will be molested by cheaters!

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard