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Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat?

 
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Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 1:38:46 AM   
QBeam

 

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Ok, I've been struggling to get my first PBEM game going, in the face of what I think is a version incompatability problem. (One of our players installed the test patch because his game was crashing, and apparently that has rendered his game unable to generate a save game file that our unpatched versions can use--all the units are gone when I try to open his save file.)

Anyway, in the process of trying and re-trying to open the file he sent me, it occured to me that this is an easy way to cheat. It seems like you can just do your turn as many times as you like, until you get the die rolls you want, and there's no way for your opponents to know.

I confess, I've not played many PBEM strategy games in the past, but this would seem to be an issue that people would have run into with previous games, and presumably the industry would have come up with a solution to it. I figure it must be hard to stop determined cheaters from cracking the files, but I wasn't worried about that--I figured the number of people with that skill, who still have a psychological need to cheat would be minimal. But this would be so easy I think it would ruin the game with suspicion.

Am I missing something?
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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 1:45:33 AM   
Dalwin

 

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I have not tried PBEM yet, but in another thread someone was referring to a number that shows how many times a player opened his turn file. I presume that the intent of that number is to prevent the type of cheating to which you refer.

It would of course be up to the players to enforce it and I suppose you might have to establish a house rule restricting this to one and if someone had been forced for some reason to interrupt his turn and reload (maybe power outage) he had best explain why it shows the next guy a two instead of a one.

I am passing this on second hand and do not know exactly where that number displays.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 1:55:27 AM   
Becket


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It is not possible to get better die rolls by re-rolling.

There are two anti-cheat protections incorporated into the game.

The first method to prevent PBEM cheating is the file count. The text "Console: [number]" indicates how many times the player reloaded the file.

The second method is more or less iron clad: the combat rolls for each unit are seeded at the start of each turn. No matter how many times you conduct a combat, if you lost it the first time, you're probably going to keep losing it (unless you add units and/or the units allocate their fire in a different pattern, the latter very, very unlikely to result in a win).

Basically, all reloading does is allow your opponent to either optimize forces or avoid no-win combats. The counter takes care of that.

Net-net: seeding prevents reloads to get cheap dice re-roll wins, and there's a reload counter for other things (seeding does the most important anti-cheating, but the reload counter is nice).

< Message edited by Becket -- 4/4/2005 1:59:02 AM >


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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 3:03:03 AM   
PeterF

 

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OK, two threads on the same subject. Why not?
quote:

someone was referring to a number that shows how many times a player opened his turn file.

I believe the program shows how many times the file has been SAVED.
quote:

The first method to prevent PBEM cheating is the file count.


Well, this works fine after turn 1. But the 1st player can 're-roll' a brand new game as many times as he wants. It seems likely there's a whole range of results possible. One could even maintain a library of successful opening moves for future PBEMs.

As far as I can see, with the existing implementation, the only ironclad security would derive from a 3rd party sending a saved 1st turn to the German player. The 1st player would show one extra loaded file for the duration of the game. Alternatively, the 3rd player, say, could send the opening file to the German. The latter would have to trust the Russian not to reveal the password to the WA player. Being the last player, only WA would have access to the German situation.

Unless I'm missing something here.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 3:15:21 AM   
sveint


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Reload count is useless but the combat seed is what matters. It keeps things right, no way to fool it.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 3:18:33 AM   
Becket


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PeterF,

I'm referring to games in progress. There is no "re-rolling" after the game has commenced. If you expect your opponents to play you in games where France didn't fall, or first turn invasions of Norway failed, you'll need to pick them very carefully.

If tournament organizers are concerned about perfect German starts, they should conduct the movement phase, then send the save out to the German player to start the production.

There is no way to stop someone from running turn one over and over. You could impose a count that showed the number of game starts without saves (theorectially you could - might be a programming nightmare for all I know), but that could be beaten by a determined opponent.

< Message edited by Becket -- 4/4/2005 3:22:17 AM >


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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 3:26:10 AM   
PeterF

 

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quote:

If tournament organizers are concerned about perfect German starts, they should conduct the movement phase, then send the save out to the German player to start the production.

There is no way to stop someone from running turn one over and over.


Bingo! That was point. But I think you meant merely to open the German turn and save it. NOT conduct any movements or combats.

Great game, tho. Very absorbing from this early perspective.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 11:27:42 AM   
ravinhood


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I think some of you guys have been playing too many RTS games in the past. The true Wargaming community I would think doesn't have the riff raff percentages of the clickfest community. Grogs cheat? I'd find it amazing to run into even 1% of the Grog community that would cheat to win. Wargamers of our calibur are a small niche community. So, with a lower population the less chance of running into someone that cheats. Unlike your rts genre that has 1000's of players, yeah, I ran into one just about everyday online while playing AOE on MSN's ZONE.com I also believe our community is of a more "mature" age and nature of mind where "winning isn't everything". I know I'm that way. I just like the challenge a human provides over the AI in PBEM games. ;) I can recall only one in the past 5 years of PBEM that while I wouldn't call it cheating, he did send me a stacked scenario against me from the start in a game of Combat Mission.

If the Game Genie had never been invented and cheat codes never been implemented into games, I think all cheating would be at a minimum. But, most of todays youth and much of the 20 year old generation grew up with cheats and cheat codes, some of these type BELIEVE it is "ALRIGHT" to cheat, it's "PART OF THE GAME" lol.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 12:58:33 PM   
PDiFolco

 

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IMHO the current system allows for too much cheating. OK rolls are seeded, but if a combat goes wrong I can just reload, reorder the attacks or not make them at all....
It doesn't bother me much because I onl play with trusted friends or friends'friends, still it is an issus for competitive gaming.
I think there should be an option disallow in-turn saves in pbem; the "console/reload" feature can't be enforced, and pbem in IGO/UGO system can't be cheatproofed (it can in WEGO games such as Combat Mission). You can't prevent people from at least reloading their turn file (if they have a crash, have to quit the turn due to some RL emergency, etc..).

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 2:36:50 PM   
Pocus


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How this file count works? If I erase the savegame and put a brand new file for example?


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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 2:40:53 PM   
paullus99


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Actually, the counter is not how many times its been saved - it is how many times its been loaded - so if you see a 3 when you open a turn, your opponent restarted 3 separate times & he should have a pretty good explanation for why he did it, or he's cheating.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 3:09:00 PM   
PDiFolco

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: paullus99

Actually, the counter is not how many times its been saved - it is how many times its been loaded - so if you see a 3 when you open a turn, your opponent restarted 3 separate times & he should have a pretty good explanation for why he did it, or he's cheating.

Like : "first time Game crashed, I had to reload !. Then baby cried, then wife was angry, I had to quit, reload
And then ? You'll tell the guy he's a liar and cheated ?
This console/reload thingie can't be relied upon to detect cheaters. And the real cheaters will surely uninstall/reinstall the game each time and get past it ...

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 3:37:32 PM   
Scott_WAR

 

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Another good argument for TCP/IP play.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 3:47:04 PM   
Oleg Mastruko


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quote:

ORIGINAL: PDiFolco
And the real cheaters will surely uninstall/reinstall the game each time and get past it ...




O.



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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 4:55:36 PM   
Bluestew0


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quote:

ORIGINAL: PDiFolco
And the real cheaters will surely uninstall/reinstall the game each time and get past it ...


Side-stepping the counter would be so much more simple and less involved than that. Honestly, the reload counter is only "potentially" useful for a player to determine if he thinks he's getting a fair shake from his opponents and determining if he/she would like to continue playing against that person in PBEM.

With the number of dice rolls in this game's combat system, someone would have to really be determined to cheat to log/manipulate rolls. Perhaps someone could opt against an attack rather than lose a battle, something more general like that would be much more likely.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 5:57:03 PM   
paullus99


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I'd like to think that people are generally more honest than that. If you find you are having problems with a particular opponent (all their attacks seem to succeed, etc) then it is up to you as a player to ask them about it or just find another opponent.

That was one thing I never understood about cheaters - we don't win prizes or money, we play for fun. I, for one, have been on the receiving end of several whipping in this game alone & I chock each one up to learning experiences. Hopefully, we will be able to put together a good, honest bunch of players that will take the game for what it is, a great way to have a good time.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 6:04:14 PM   
Barthheart


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I agree completely Paullus. The point is the play of the game not the winning. Although that's nice too.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 6:09:26 PM   
Oleg Mastruko


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quote:

ORIGINAL: paullus99
That was one thing I never understood about cheaters - we don't win prizes or money, we play for fun. I, for one, have been on the receiving end of several whipping in this game alone & I chock each one up to learning experiences. Hopefully, we will be able to put together a good, honest bunch of players that will take the game for what it is, a great way to have a good time.


It's only a matter of time until the first competitive "ladder" for WAW appears. Then some extreme competitiveness will appear among ladder players, possibliy including cheating.

I remember it from the days of TOAW. It was, and is, easy to cheat in TOAW (big designer ommission IMO). I never ever played on those competitive ladders and their tournaments because I thought they are too competitive for my taste.

But other than ladders, I played dozens if not hundereds of TOAW PBEMs. I didn't want to let the possibility of cheating to ruin my enjoyment.

O.





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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 7:15:14 PM   
Gullet

 

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I agree with Scott_WAR, that this is another reason to deliver TCP/IP support in the next patch. In that case everybody would be present/online when a game starts and it would be impossible to perform the "first turn multiload" cheat if programmed accordingly.

All roads lead to TCP/IP...

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 7:20:59 PM   
PDiFolco

 

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Well, TCP/IP may be a solution to cheat issues, but the game is really not designed to be played online... With full IGO/UGO system and turns lasting 10-20 mins, this means you have to wait 30min ti 1hr+ between turns ! I don't think I'd ever play WaW online ...

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 7:20:59 PM   
dobeln

 

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I think the reload counter is a pretty good form of cheating protection. The Axis first turn is generally pretty easy anyways, and the penalty for taking an extra tank casualty or two in France are light - you'll get em back quickly, and you won't really need em until 41. (In most cases.) As said elsewhere, if you really want protection, getting an umpire to start the axis turn should be a good way to go.

The suggestion that reinstalling the game should be a workaround for the load counter seems a bit strange - after all, that information is stored in the savegame file, not in the game itself.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 7:22:25 PM   
PDiFolco

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: dobeln

I think the reload counter is a pretty good form of cheating protection. The Axis first turn is generally pretty easy anyways, and the penalty for taking an extra tank casualty or two in France are light - you'll get em back quickly, and you won't really need em until 41. (In most cases.) As said elsewhere, if you really want protection, getting an umpire to start the axis turn should be a good way to go.

The suggestion that reinstalling the game should be a workaround for the load counter seems a bit strange - after all, that information is stored in the savegame file, not in the game itself.


Bah, in this case copying a backup of the save is a very simple workaround ... I suggested reinstall as a "last ditch" cheating measure

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 7:31:47 PM   
Bluestew0


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quote:

ORIGINAL: paullus99

I, for one, have been on the receiving end of several whipping in this game alone & I chock each one up to learning experiences.


Darn tootin'! I don't learn too much from a victory, but getting my rump handed to me always results in valuable knowledge earned.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 7:38:12 PM   
dobeln

 

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Ah, that makes more sense. (Runs off to cheat my pants off! :P )

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 9:54:12 PM   
sveint


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I'd love TCP/IP support.

Unfortunately I know very well it's not an easy thing to implement.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 10:42:31 PM   
dobeln

 

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"Unfortunately I know very well it's not an easy thing to implement."

Well, considering an open-source project like tripleA (http://triplea.sourceforge.net/) can do solid TCP/IP, it shouldn't be past the capabilites of Matrix :)


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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 11:00:05 PM   
PeterF

 

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quote:

I never ever played on those competitive ladders and their tournaments because I thought they are too competitive for my taste. But other than ladders, I played dozens if not hundereds of TOAW PBEMs. I didn't want to let the possibility of cheating to ruin my enjoyment.


Man, you're sick.

What's wrong with having the best of both worlds: open, trust-based play with email buds and high-security, cutthroat matches with ladder fiends?

You only expect a reasonable barrier; if someone's willing to uninstall,reinstall the game or hack the exe files what can you do?
Reagan to Gorbachev: 'Trust but verify'.

< Message edited by PeterF -- 4/4/2005 11:09:18 PM >

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/4/2005 11:34:04 PM   
Jombee

 

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This is another good argument for TCP/IP play, but it should not be the main reason why TCP/IP play is hopefully going to be added. It should be added because numerous people (including myselft) that post here (and I'm sure many others) would prefer to use it as a multiplayer option.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/5/2005 1:50:56 AM   
Twotribes


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Whats the point of an online game where an individual turn can last so long as can happen in this game? This wasnt designed to be an online game. Thus PBEM. If your so paranoid someone is cheating, dont play them, dont play at all if you cant get over the fact that most people arent gonna cheat.

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RE: Game-breaking flaw in PBEM?!? Easy cheat? - 4/5/2005 2:08:29 AM   
eMonticello


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Twotribes
Whats the point of an online game where an individual turn can last so long as can happen in this game? This wasnt designed to be an online game. Thus PBEM. If your so paranoid someone is cheating, dont play them, dont play at all if you cant get over the fact that most people arent gonna cheat.

It makes no difference if the game wasn't designed for tcp/ip ... certain folks will want it because A&A had this feature or they wish to play WAW at LAN Parties.

< Message edited by eMonticello -- 4/5/2005 2:11:37 AM >


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