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Announcement: Improved Server Cheat Protection

 
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Announcement: Improved Server Cheat Protection - 4/10/2012 9:04:07 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

Posts: 32556
Joined: 3/28/2000
From: Vermont, USA
Status: online
Hi everyone,

I wanted to post a quick note here to let you know that we've just added to the War in the East PBEM ++ server quite a few improvements in the area of cheat detection, in order to ensure that the trust level for server-based games remains high, even when accepting challenges from players you've never played before.

While we can't go into details, this improved system includes better tools to monitor ongoing games as well as some new automated processes that will allow us to be more effective administrators. Under normal circumstances, you should notice no difference at all, but this should allow you to have confidence that the games you participate in through our PBEM ++ system are both secure and fair.

With all that said, while we have tested these improvements extensively and rolled them out on another game first, I wanted to make sure you were aware just in case you do see any issues.

Regards,

- Erik

Edit - Fixed a typo in the Subject

< Message edited by elmo3 -- 4/11/2012 12:06:50 PM >


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Post #: 1
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/11/2012 3:43:35 AM   
76mm


Posts: 2062
Joined: 5/2/2004
From: Moscow
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Erik,

Thanks for this news, but it would be good to have at least a little more information about how this system works. Say my opponent is cheating; it sounds like you find out, but it is not clear what, if anything, you will do about it. And what about me, how am I really protected? Will my opponent be banned, or suspended, get frownie faces on his report card, or what?

Conversely, if my computer hangs up or I lose power in the middle of a turn (which happens to me occasionally), am I suddenly a cheater?

Also, for the reason described above, I try to save (1-2x) during every turn; I assume that saving games is not an indicator of cheating?

I understand that you might not want to go into full details on how this works, but what you've told us so far is welcome, I guess, but not very helpful.

(in reply to Erik Rutins)
Post #: 2
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/11/2012 8:38:55 AM   
Tarhunnas


Posts: 3132
Joined: 1/27/2011
From: Hex X37, Y15
Status: online
I would echo 76mm sentiments! I understand that you would want to be careful about just how you detect cheating, but it would be interesting to hear what steps you take when you suspect cheating.

If you need suggestions, I would suggest a mail to both players stating that something out of the ordinary has been detected, and then the part causing the event gets an opportunity to explain, both to his opponent and the administrators.

BTW the subject says "Chat protection", hehe..

Edit: And I appreciate your effort to limit the opportunities for cheating!

< Message edited by Tarhunnas -- 4/11/2012 8:40:07 AM >


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(in reply to 76mm)
Post #: 3
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/11/2012 9:26:01 AM   
76mm


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We really need to know what happens if someone is caught cheating by this enhanced systeam. Is the other player notified? I can think of plenty of arguments NOT to notify the other player, but in a game like this which could last for hundreds of game-hours and months or even years of calendar time, I would sure want to know if my opponent started a grand campaign by reloading a couple/several times every turn. Or if my opponent is banned, does he just disappear, or do I get some kind of notice from Matrix? Presumably he would not e-mail to say that they've been banned for cheating.

Or maybe your improved system consists of real-time saves to the server for every move, etc., which would seem to make cheating impossible. That would be great if that is what you've done, although it doesn't sound like it from your description (I also don't know if this would be technically feasible).

(in reply to Tarhunnas)
Post #: 4
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/12/2012 5:07:14 PM   
Joel Billings


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My understanding from Erik is that when the automated system detects what it thinks is cheating, it automatically sends out a warning note to the potentially cheating player. The system then tracks the player's ongoing play to see if cheating has stopped, or if cheating appears to be continuing. I don't know how many warnings go out, but I assume a few do. I think at some point the system alerts Matrix that there is continued abuse going on, at which point I think a person has to manually intervene and ban the player from the server. Matrix/Slitherine have some experience with this system with other games. The point is that when a pattern of abuse is detected, the player is warned and needs to stop the abuse or they will end up banned.

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(in reply to 76mm)
Post #: 5
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/12/2012 5:31:58 PM   
map66

 

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Joined: 1/31/2011
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The system sounds good, but my only hope is that it takes into account the not infrequent times when the Slitherine servers go down and one is unable to save ones turn with the infamous error 99 and such. Those down times account for 99.9% of my reloaded turns, and I imagine many other honest people here.

< Message edited by map66 -- 4/12/2012 5:32:17 PM >

(in reply to Joel Billings)
Post #: 6
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/12/2012 5:43:39 PM   
76mm


Posts: 2062
Joined: 5/2/2004
From: Moscow
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Joel,

Thanks for the explanation.

I hope that if someone gets banned his opponent is notified? Also, I don't know what other games you've used this system with, but given the long-term nature of this game, it might require a slightly different approach than something like FoG, in which games might only last a couple of hours total.

Also, while I appreciate your desire to keep the details of the system obscure, it seems like someone who wanted to cheat could simply set up a game against himself to figure out what behavior triggers the warning e-mails/ban-stick. Therefore it might just be better just to tell everyone how it works?

(in reply to map66)
Post #: 7
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/14/2012 7:21:42 PM   
Tarhunnas


Posts: 3132
Joined: 1/27/2011
From: Hex X37, Y15
Status: online

quote:

ORIGINAL: 76mm
... it seems like someone who wanted to cheat could simply set up a game against himself to figure out what behavior triggers the warning e-mails/ban-stick.


Now that is decidedly evil! I didn't even think about that! Either I am not paranoid enough or I am not cheating enough!

_____________________________

Read my AAR:s ye mighty, and despair!
41Ger
41Sov
41Ger
42Ger
42Sov

(in reply to 76mm)
Post #: 8
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/15/2012 12:44:02 AM   
76mm


Posts: 2062
Joined: 5/2/2004
From: Moscow
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Sorry, anyone living in Moscow would have realized this in about 30 seconds. It's a rough-and-tumble place...

(in reply to Tarhunnas)
Post #: 9
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/15/2012 2:07:15 AM   
gradenko_2000

 

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Are we allowed to talk about what kind of cheating is going on? Is it something as simple as frequent reloads of saved games to get favorable combat results, or something more in-depth and deliberate?

(in reply to 76mm)
Post #: 10
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/15/2012 3:07:03 AM   
Michael T


Posts: 2190
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From: Queensland, Australia.
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I would imagine that the odd hang or freeze that occurs to most of us will not trigger anything. But multiple and consistant reloads without saves will trigger a responce when a threshold is reached. Sounds good to me. Anything to disuade cheating is good.

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(in reply to gradenko_2000)
Post #: 11
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/15/2012 5:24:25 AM   
76mm


Posts: 2062
Joined: 5/2/2004
From: Moscow
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: Michael T
But multiple and consistant reloads without saves will trigger a responce when a threshold is reached. Sounds good to me. Anything to disuade cheating is good.


Agreed, but frankly I'd like to know, for instance, if someone reloading once every turn would trigger it. Not as blatant as reloading multiple times, but would still give a pretty significant advantage.

(in reply to Michael T)
Post #: 12
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/15/2012 7:57:06 AM   
Tophat1812

 

Posts: 1526
Joined: 1/16/2006
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Joel Billings

My understanding from Erik is that when the automated system detects what it thinks is cheating, it automatically sends out a warning note to the potentially cheating player. The system then tracks the player's ongoing play to see if cheating has stopped, or if cheating appears to be continuing. I don't know how many warnings go out, but I assume a few do. I think at some point the system alerts Matrix that there is continued abuse going on, at which point I think a person has to manually intervene and ban the player from the server. Matrix/Slitherine have some experience with this system with other games. The point is that when a pattern of abuse is detected, the player is warned and needs to stop the abuse or they will end up banned.


Is this the same or similar system used in Slitherines Field of glory game?

(in reply to Joel Billings)
Post #: 13
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/15/2012 9:28:23 AM   
Michael T


Posts: 2190
Joined: 10/22/2006
From: Queensland, Australia.
Status: offline
Legitimate lock ups and freezes or whatever should be fairly random and infrequent. Some kind of tracking algorithm that can detect patterns along with a frequency check might help. Some automatic random saves done without the knowledge of a player could also help, if its possible.

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(in reply to Tophat1812)
Post #: 14
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/15/2012 10:03:36 AM   
glvaca

 

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Joined: 6/13/2006
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Tarhunnas


quote:

ORIGINAL: 76mm
... it seems like someone who wanted to cheat could simply set up a game against himself to figure out what behavior triggers the warning e-mails/ban-stick.


Now that is decidedly evil! I didn't even think about that! Either I am not paranoid enough or I am not cheating enough!


Wouldn't that person need 2 keys of the game? If so, that would rather make it expensive!

(in reply to Tarhunnas)
Post #: 15
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/15/2012 1:56:10 PM   
76mm


Posts: 2062
Joined: 5/2/2004
From: Moscow
Status: offline
quote:

Wouldn't that person need 2 keys of the game? If so, that would rather make it expensive!


Dunno, haven't tried it, but I would think that all you would need is two separate log-ins.

I like the random save idea, but also have another question--why does the game log you out whenever you save to the server? I would like to save more often than I do, but the slight delay caused by having to log back in is sometimes enough to not do so.

(in reply to glvaca)
Post #: 16
RE: Announcement: Improved Server Chat Protection - 4/22/2012 7:45:15 PM   
timmyab

 

Posts: 819
Joined: 12/14/2010
From: Bristol, UK
Status: offline
Random saves sounds like a good idea, as an option at any rate.
I'd like to see the number of reloads recorded as a matter of course each turn.If you trust your opponent then the odd reload here and there wont mean anything, but if you've got good reasons to suspect them of cheating then the number of reloads could confirm your worst fears or indeed put your mind at rest if there aren't any reloads.

(in reply to 76mm)
Post #: 17
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