Psychochild's Blog

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6 January, 2008

Weekend Design Challenge: Cheating
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:21 PM

This week’s challenge is going to be short: describe a way to cheat in an online game.

Some more thoughts after the break.

If you want a specific focus, look for a way to circumvent RuneScape‘s new system. I’ve come up with another idea after listing one way to circumvent it. Let’s see your devious creativity!

Most of the best cheats happen when the developer trusts the client too much. The classic Meridian 59 example is when the “hold” spell used to only stop client-side input. It didn’t take long for players to block that incoming packet and be immune to hold.

So, what’s your idea?

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  1. I don’t know exactly how the account management system works in Runescape, but it looks like it would be fairly easy to transfer the gold/items to a character on a secondary account, and transfer the whole account to the buyer. It would probably cost a little more, but would seem viable for larger transactions – plus the problem of transferring the items/gold across is for the buyer to deal with, not the seller.

    The system wouldn’t appear to stop the selling of pre-levelled, pre-equipped characters, either, nor would it stop direct powerlevelling/instance farming by someone playing your account, not that there’s really any way to do that.

    There’s also the case for just selling gold in portions of 3000g, possibly with a macro/code system – buy 10 codes worth 3000g, input them at your nearest goldbot for 3000g each, every 15 minutes, depending on how advanced the macro systems are…

    Comment by Lobosolitario — 7 January, 2008 @ 12:29 AM

  2. I used to cheat at Warcraft 3 by pasting a zero onto my monitor where my actual number of losses was supposed to appear. That worked pretty good until Blizzard started making it appear at random places on the screen in giant glowing type.

    Comment by Bret — 8 January, 2008 @ 1:22 PM

  3. One log-in, one character. No secondary characters.

    So, the first instance wouldn’t work.

    Yes, you could give them your account info…but then you have the issue of losing your account. The pre-levelled accounts they’re not addressing with this.

    They’re just trying to make it as inconvenient as possible.

    Comment by Ophelea — 9 January, 2008 @ 9:32 AM

  4. The issue is, some people that might have bought gold before might take extra steps to continue buying gold. Giving account information so that someone can grind for you is one alternative option. The thing to keep in mind when you try to eliminate behaviors is what other behaviors does it potentially encourage? If some of the gold buyers instead allow the service providers to grind on their account for them, and some of the accounts are stolen, then the administrators still have a service issue to handle. We saw this a lot on Meridian 59, and we had to take steps to discourage people from sharing account information.

    I think that in this case, RuneScape is probably doing the right thing. But, every decision has consequences and a good designer has to see this. A good designer should also try to stay one step ahead of the competition: in this case, anticipating what the next step in the conflict will be. If I were running RuneScape right now, for example, I would start making posts about how sharing your account information can lead to very bad things.

    Comment by Psychochild — 10 January, 2008 @ 11:50 AM

  5. Star Wars: Galaxies ran under a one log-in, one character system, and it didn’t stop people using multiple characters. The gold seller would have to make a separate account for the mule character anyway, because they need their “work” accounts to get the goods they’re selling. The buyer would take on the mule account for the time needed to drain the resources it carries, and then discard it.

    Of course it makes things harder, but by no means impossible.

    Comment by Lobosolitario — 12 January, 2008 @ 2:59 AM

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