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MattScott

Cheating

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Hi all,

 

This month's Developer Discussion is likely a can of worms, but I feel like Little Orbit is damned if we don't talk about this, and damned if we do.

We have been accused of not taking Cheating seriously enough, or being too slow to act.

 

So in the spirit of transparency, I'm going to open this topic anyway. It is meant to be a conversation starter.

Please try to keep this civil, and try to respect each other's experience in-game. 

 

Let's start at the beginning.

 

1) Why do we care about cheating?
Unlike many other online games, in APB there is no PvE (player vs. environment) content. In APB, you're always playing another live player. Where there is a winner, there is also a loser, and that kind of system only thrives if players know they are getting (a) fairly matched and (b) other players don't have a significant advantage to win.

 

2) What is cheating?

Some players might describe cheating as "gaining an unfair advantage over another player", and while that may be technically true, it's not an enforceable definition for me. In my opinion, there is no true way to level the playing field between players without one or the other having an advantage. One player will always have a faster computer or less latency. I would argue that is not a cheating topic, that's a match making topic.

 

For me, cheating is consciously tampering with a game to gain extra information or advantages which make it easier to win. That includes (but is not limited to) aimbotting, triggerbotting, wall hacking, and other forms of scripting.

 

3) How do people cheat?
Very few cheaters have the know how to create their own hacks. In my opinion, the largest pool of cheaters pay for it. They go online and buy cheats that are supported by other hackers. No matter what you hear or believe, cheating is a business based on supply and demand. The bigger and more competitive the game, the more likely hackers are to create cheats for it. I am surprised that any hacker feels APB is worth their time to make cheats for.

 

4) Why do people cheat?

This is wildly subjective. But in my opinion, people cheat for one of two reasons: (a) they are afraid of being embarrassed by losing / they want fame or glory for winning. or (b) they want to ruin other people's fun.

 

Now onto the more difficult parts...

 

5) How do we know someone is cheating?
In traditional FPS shooters there are very specific ways we can detect cheaters. But this game is unique. In my opinion, APB has one of the largest skill gaps in any game I have come across. The distance between a novice and an expert is massive. Many of the behaviors that are commonly flagged as cheating in other games, are not only valid, but considered good gameplay in APB. Experienced players will master the map and their surroundings. They will anticipate what their opponents are going to do next and appear like they are wall hacking. They will control their camera, and execute "snaps" to flip around and snipe opponents while running away. They have spent hours practicing with their weapon to utilize distance and falloff so they can consistently deal maximum damage to an opponent who wont be able to retaliate.

 

And sometimes, they are just cheating. The problem is telling the difference.

 

To detect cheaters, we use one of three systems:

 

  • BattlEye - a commercial client-side anti-cheat that is constantly upgraded to identify and block all of the common entry points for cheats. This system inspects player hardware at runtime while they are in the game. There are a lot of myths about BattlEye, but I can assure you there isn't a "good" version and a "bad" version. There's isn't a "lite" or "premium" version. That literally makes no sense. Why would BattlEye want any company running around damaging their reputation with a version of their software that didn't work 100%? Companies pay money, and they get access to the product to integrate it into their games. Some do a good job and they upgrade all the time. Some do a poor job and don't upgrade. We're probably somewhere in the middle. We have been running BattlEye since May 2018. and I've very happy with the results.

 

  • Internal - a custom client-side anti-cheat that we implement and maintain. This is a secondary watchdog that we use to protect BattlEye and other known vulnerabilities. It's a system that we upgrade less frequently, but it does a good job of catching folks off guard.

 

  • FairFight - a commercial server-side anti-cheat. This is a system we inherited, and I'm going to officially say that we are no longer moving forward with it. This is not a disparaging review of Gameblocks or their product. They are a great company. They worked with G1 for years, and it's fine for most games. But as I said above, APB is unique, and after evaluating the results, I've decided FairFight isn't a good long term solution for us. To be clear, we absolutely need a great server-side anti-cheat. But based on our experience with custom solutions like Trade Locking and the new /Report system, we have started implementing our own server-side anti-cheat that integrates with all of our GM and Support tools.

 

6) What is not considered evidence of cheating?

This is the next tricky area.

 

I am often sent videos, screenshots, or other forms of evidence that players feel "undeniably" shows that another player was cheating. And while I sympathize, please know that we cannot blindly accept this as a reason to ban someone.

 

We *must* take the effort to monitor and collect evidence to properly prove they were cheating.

 

7) How do we handle cheaters when we detect them?
Based on APB's history, I didn't feel we could permanently auto-ban cheaters based on any of the systems mentioned above.

We do temp ban for a window long enough that my staff can review the data and then decide whether to extend the ban or remove it.

 

Overall, I consider cheating to be one of the most difficult parts of running APB. I honestly wish we didn't have this problem, because it damages the enjoyment of the game.

Please know that we continue to invest lots of time and effort into making this a fun, fair game to play.
We aren't perfect. No anti-cheat is 100%.

But we are working at getting better at this.

 

Thanks,

Matt

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Always was amusing watching people try and pass out ideas such as "anti-cheat tiers" or some other nonsense.

 

I do hope there are plans on the table for doing something with the skill gap though. 

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Have you guys thought of using EAC as an anti cheat ? im not gonna lie , i like to lurk cheating forums by curiosity , and i've always noticed that EAC is very efficent at protecting games but once bypassed , it doesn't matter anymore , meanwhile battle eye is known to be easy to bypass , but then will always catch you later .

 

so yeah i've been wondering , what made you guys choose BE rather than other anticheats ?

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This might sound bad but hear me out. Currently the reason cheats are updated and so easy to maintain  is the lack of encryption in memory and the binary itself. There are pubic tools for dumping and creating an sdk of sorts. PUBG repacks their binary daily; hence the small updates that happen often. This prevents cheats checking for a "signature" or "offsets"; meaning a section of memory containing all of the information tables that you could want to use.  Another solution is to do a linear aimbot check. If the path of motion is linear and has no human input it's clearly not made by a human. I believe fairfight has flags for this already. 

As you stated; 

Quote

I am often sent videos, screenshots, or other forms of evidence that players feel "undeniably" shows that another player was cheating. And while I sympathize, please know that we cannot blindly accept this as a reason to ban someone.

This is completely understandable. You're doing the right thing by not banning players that have done nothing wrong.

 

The correct choice for an anti-cheat is batteye. But you shouldn't write out fairfight because it was badly tuned when you received it. It has the highest chance of catching a cheater if they indeed have a bypass for your custom client and battleye. I'd recommend in getting in contact with the support team and have it made the way YOU want it. Not the way g1 wanted it.

 

Thanks for being transparent Matt. We all can appreciate that.

 

Edited by Yoss
adding info
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4 hours ago, MattScott said:

I am often sent videos, screenshots, or other forms of evidence that players feel "undeniably" shows that another player was cheating. And while I sympathize, please know that we cannot blindly accept this as a reason to ban someone.

So, essentially, you are telling us that sending you "evidence" won't make any difference, unless you catch them yourselves.

Does that mean that when someone /report someone else, you are going to investigate each time and then either ban or flag the person that got reported as "he is getting many false positives, ignore the future reports"?

How about those that report everyone for cheating? Do they get a score of "how important his/her reports are" so the reports are getting prioritized?

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30 minutes ago, Saxtus said:

How about those that report everyone for cheating? Do they get a score of "how important his/her reports are" so the reports are getting prioritized?

This would be the only kind of name&shame I would support. Cheat Report Credibility.

However, the credibility score would not be 100% valid, because someone not getting banned from a report does not necessarily mean that person does not cheat. Just that there is not enough evidence to support a ban.

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Thank you for the explanation Matt and thank you to you and yours for trying to untangle the mess that is player demand.

 

As a near perpetual silver-threat, I can be frustrated by getting steamrolled by better players; often low-rank, high-threat "re-roll" characters (i.e. Experienced players on a new character). I'm usually older and a little slower than the bulk of my opposition, so I try to give people the benefit of the doubt where possible.

 

It is additionally frustrating to see a vocal minority dismissing any complaints of unfairness or cheating in the game as "Silver got rolled", "git gud" or some such without taking the time to explain how they do so well - assuming they do better than most.

Quote

In my opinion, there is no true way to level the playing field between players without one or the other having an advantage. One player will always have a faster computer or less latency. I would argue that is not a cheating topic, that's a match making topic.

This may be where a bulk of my (and others) frustrations come from. I would be interested in seeing how match making evolves over the coming year and your plans on leveling the playing field a little. 

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5 hours ago, MattScott said:

I am often sent videos, screenshots, or other forms of evidence that players feel "undeniably" shows that another player was cheating. And while I sympathize, please know that we cannot blindly accept this as a reason to ban someone.

I can understand if the thinking here is that player submitted 'evidence' can't be trusted to not be doctored, but you do still take them into some level of consideration anyway right?

 

EDIT: at least for videos if not screenshots, since, while not impossible, I doubt must would-be "cheater police" players would take the time to doctor a Shadowplay/ReLive video highlight to push a vendetta.

Edited by Nite

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1 hour ago, Saxtus said:

So, essentially, you are telling us that sending you "evidence" won't make any difference, unless you catch them yourselves.

Does that mean that when someone /report someone else, you are going to investigate each time and then either ban or flag the person that got reported as "he is getting many false positives, ignore the future reports"?

How about those that report everyone for cheating? Do they get a score of "how important his/her reports are" so the reports are getting prioritized?

Matt said he cant go by that alone but has to gather enough data and evidence for it to be solid.

Most of the "evidence" people posted on the forums wasn't clear enough to begin with from the videos being too short.

I've only seen one blatant cheater on Jericho and have no idea whats going on citadel so I can't speak for them , but for Jericho specifically in FC or mission districts I just haven't seen any blatant cheaters *shrugs*\

 

There has also been quite a few "rerolls"

We do get two character slots so there's going to be people doing that since it's a part of the game.

A few were pretty tough on Jericho but once you figure out someones behavior its possible to turn the tide.

I personally tend to use this to evaluate if someones a dethreat on bronze or just good enough to be a pain as well.

but that's a different topic and only mentioned here because some get mistaken for cheating. I'm not mentioning it for anything else.

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3 hours ago, Yoss said:

The correct choice for an anti-cheat is batteye. But you shouldn't write out fairfight because it was badly tuned when you received it. It has the highest chance of catching a cheater if they indeed have a bypass for your custom client and battleye. I'd recommend in getting in contact with the support team and have it made the way YOU want it. Not the way g1 wanted it.

Matt is saying FairFight isn't a good fit for APB. I highly doubt that LO didn't adjust FF at all since picking up APB, and at this point it's been 6-7 months since LO took over; seems like plenty of time to determine how good a fit FF is for APB.

11 minutes ago, CookiePuss said:

GG

8zF4AyP.gif

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9 hours ago, MattScott said:

2) What is cheating?

Some players might describe cheating as "gaining an unfair advantage over another player", and while that may be technically true, it's not an enforceable definition for me. In my opinion, there is no true way to level the playing field between players without one or the other having an advantage. One player will always have a faster computer or less latency. I would argue that is not a cheating topic, that's a match making topic.

 

For me, cheating is consciously tampering with a game to gain extra information or advantages which make it easier to win. That includes (but is not limited to) aimbotting, triggerbotting, wall hacking, and other forms of scripting.

 

While I appreciate the effort, your post does not address any of the hotly debated cheating topics, and only addresses the obvious, traditional ways of cheating ie. aimbot, esp etc.

 

For example, what is your opinion on client side file editing, like people changing the mission files to know the next stage and the next objective.

What is your opinion on using 3rd party software putting a crosshair overlay on the game so it's easier to aim certain guns?

What is your opinion on editing certain files to make players etc. easier to see in game?

 

Those are all topics that have been generating very heated exchanges from the playerbase for many many years and you should REALLY draw a line in them already.

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5 hours ago, Saxtus said:

So, essentially, you are telling us that sending you "evidence" won't make any difference, unless you catch them yourselves.

Does that mean that when someone /report someone else, you are going to investigate each time and then either ban or flag the person that got reported as "he is getting many false positives, ignore the future reports"?

How about those that report everyone for cheating? Do they get a score of "how important his/her reports are" so the reports are getting prioritized?

Evidence is great. Keep sending it. We do evaluate it.

 

My point was that 99% of the time it’s not enough to immediately act on. It takes time to investigate. However we now have better internal reporting and the beginnings of our own server-side anti cheat that we are using to help collect additional evidence to see if there is any action against the reported player that we need to take.

 

The /report system is fairly complicated, which is why it took so long to create. Most of that data gets autonatically filtered and re-ranked based on volume and reliability.

18 minutes ago, ilikecake said:

 

While I appreciate the effort, your post does not address any of the hotly debated cheating topics, and only addresses the obvious, traditional ways of cheating ie. aimbot, esp etc.

 

For example, what is your opinion on client side file editing, like people changing the mission files to know the next stage and the next objective.

What is your opinion on using 3rd party software putting a crosshair overlay on the game so it's easier to aim certain guns?

What is your opinion on editing certain files to make players etc. easier to see in game?

 

Those are all topics that have been generating very heated exchanges from the playerbase for many many years and you should REALLY draw a line in them already.

I have answered these questions in the past.

 

If you modify data files, you put yourself at risk of negative consequences.

 

The only 3rd party tool that is approved is the Advanced Launcher as the creator shared the code. It’s not something that I will allow forever, but until we can optimize the game or add options ourselves, I’m fine with it.

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I've seen people blatantly advertising their cheating websites in game for the past few months and they are still not banned. High rank characters who are blatant with triggerbots who probably have tons of reports on them already.

 

How are players that blatant still able to roam districts destroying the fun for others? 

 

How come we don't have active GM's with the ability/tools to deal with these players? Is it that you guys can't figure out easily enough as to what constitutes as cheating? At least with FairFight it supposedly logged all sort of data (example:) time between shots and crosshairs going red which in a way would detect tbotters. If the client-side anti-cheat cannot detect those cheats, and the staff isn't trained well enough to spot it, how will those players get banned?

 

24 minutes ago, ilikecake said:

 

 

For example, what is your opinion on client side file editing, like people changing the mission files to know the next stage and the next objective.

What is your opinion on using 3rd party software putting a crosshair overlay on the game so it's easier to aim certain guns?

 

1st point; anyone can just load up apbvault and see what the missions/objectives are. 

2nd point; my monitor has a built in crosshair, how are they going to ban for something that isn't even on my PC? (not that i use these ugly crosshairs ||f u asus||)

Edited by iRawwwN
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22 minutes ago, ilikecake said:

For example, what is your opinion on client side file editing, like people changing the mission files to know the next stage and the next objective.

What is your opinion on using 3rd party software putting a crosshair overlay on the game so it's easier to aim certain guns?

What is your opinion on editing certain files to make players etc. easier to see in game?

 

 

these are interesting and very valid points. it sure feels like this fits into the category of...

 

9 hours ago, MattScott said:

For me, cheating is consciously tampering with a game to gain extra information or advantages which make it easier to win.

 

 

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14 minutes ago, iRawwwN said:

 (example:) time between shots and crosshairs going red which in a way would detect tbotters. 

 

Any decent cheat is going to go give you the option to choose that value yourself. Couple that with varying latency and sub optimal netcode and you can see how catching tbotters isn't as easy as any of us would like. 

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my concern is with this "skill gap" assessment. there are players who are very strategic and have gained that with playing over time. and they are fun to play with and against.

 

what you can't gain over time is the ability to fire weapons with no recoil or bloom (in near to full auto).

 

when i get killed by a lvl 255 player with an N-Tec from 50 meters where they don't miss a single bullet... i get suspicious. then you get killed by a lvl 8 (or 50 or 100 or whatever) player with the same "skill"? 

 

or the run-n-gun pistol player who takes out everyone on the map... with a pistol... over and over. lvl 9 or lvl 255. it doesn't seem to matter much.

 

as long as fight club rounds have the mass of players at all "skill levels" averaging around say 15 kills... and then a handful of players (often the same old ones time and time again) that come in at 40... there is something going on. and these high kill count players all have the same behavior as i mention above. zero bullet bloom or gun recoil. it's not strategy or tactics.

 

in the end, this is just a game but it really does get frustrating to know the people you are playing with are cheating. and you'll never be able to overcome their unfair advantage. and as others have stated, some are painfully blatant and go unpunished for months and months on end. 

 

it makes you not want to play.

 

it makes new players not want to play.

 

it makes you not want to invest money in Armas.

 

it makes you not want to pay for premium.

 

all of which is highly damaging to the game and this problem is so painfully obvious in the record low player count.

 

 

Edited by uraputz
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11 minutes ago, CookiePuss said:

Any decent cheat is going to go give you the option to choose that value yourself. Couple that with varying latency and sub optimal netcode and you can see how catching tbotters isn't as easy as any of us would like. 

Yeah, but the blatants I speak about have their delay set to 0ms or a bit more. 

Edited by iRawwwN

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8 hours ago, Ketog said:

Have you guys thought of using EAC as an anti cheat ? im not gonna lie , i like to lurk cheating forums by curiosity , and i've always noticed that EAC is very efficent at protecting games but once bypassed , it doesn't matter anymore , meanwhile battle eye is known to be easy to bypass , but then will always catch you later .

 

so yeah i've been wondering , what made you guys choose BE rather than other anticheats ?

EAC is also known for inconsistency, and god awful 0 tolerance policy that makes ban revisions take weeks. I rather have an anti-cheat that actually works, whether it be mediocre or amazing, I don't care. Unlike fairfight and PB, Battleye actually does something, and isn't used as a shroud for admins to manually ban players. If it takes Battleye a couple of weeks to ban a r100+ player, then that's fine... there's less room for error.

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I have an account called tirechDZ and was banned for no reason, im 100% sure that they thought i was cheating so it was banned forever, i left all the resources there,sent a ticket and they said they were investigating, 3 months later no reply or any news about it. 

Any guide or advices of how getting my account back ? Please help out @MattScott

Edited by kizaking
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20 minutes ago, iRawwwN said:

Yeah, but the blatants I speak about have their delay set to 0ms or a bit more. 

Lol... Not even trying to hide it are they? 

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1 minute ago, CookiePuss said:

Lol... Not even trying to hide it are they? 

I mean, if they're advertising their site of course they won't try hide it haha

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Sooooo glad to hear this MattScott, I made this account just to thank you in private. Cheating is bad and bad for the game and we see to many currently!

 

The only thing I would like to add is: 'Battleye' isn't that good / gold as their website claims it is! It is not just APB - many games with 'Battleye' still have cheaters (for example Fortnite, they even stream their cheats on YouTube). Bypasses and neural network leave Battleye behind... simply and short put: human moderators / gm's are still needed - just like the good ole days!

 

Server admins ftw!!! (With Battleye support ofc)

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33 minutes ago, uraputz said:

when i get killed by a lvl 255 player with an N-Tec from 50 meters where they don't miss a single bullet... i get suspicious. then you get killed by a lvl 8 (or 50 or 100 or whatever) player with the same "skill"? 

Thing is, this game is f2p, that R9 is most likely a player who has a R255, maybe multiple and is playing on a new character.

 

That's why some people who think going by play time on an acc etc are not thinking it through, old players on new acc's shouldn't be more likely to get banned than if they were on their main

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