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Valve on Anti-Cheating

A post on Planet Half-Life reproduces a letter to the HLDS mailing list from Valve's Eric Smith where he outlines what Valve is up to regarding cheat protection. Here's what he had to say:

Unfortunately, I can't give out more information. We're aware of the current problem with cheating and are working to find a solution. We play on-line and are just as frustrated by cheaters as you are. We're working to implement a long-term solution, and coding for that has already begun. This will involve many phases of attack. I'm sure you understand why I can't give out the specific details of our strategy.

However, it WILL NOT be "a year or so" before we start releasing cheat-prevention code. We'll be phasing it in during future updates.


76 Replies. 4 pages. Viewing page 1.
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76. great thread Nov 6, 2001, 19:16 anon@208.61
I am glad to see people discussing this with out being called a newb or a llama. I still play q2 and have to confront cheaters in every game I play i.e. Nose pak.
It is very frustrating when a cheat becomes the norm in a game not the exception. I will only play the new fps games that have only the most stringent cheat protections. I tried cs and really like it until i became good enough to realize how rampent cheating is. Our loudest voice is our wallet. Use it wisely.
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75. The True Question Nov 6, 2001, 16:22 anon@198.62
How many have uninstalled or stoped running a CS/HL server due to these issues. I have switched to a different FPS and archived my CS dir and deleted it from my server.

I just took the fun out of it completely for me, we even stop all OGL competion for CS due to the cheats.
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74. Re: BACK TO THE POINT Nov 6, 2001, 14:53 anon@207.51
>noone will want to buy TF2 if/when it comes out.

Hah, its never coming out, you're hoping against hope there.
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73. Re: BACK TO THE POINT Nov 6, 2001, 14:38 60secs
"How about focusing on the anti-cheat methods themselves"

Okay, but let's get a little more specific than just "wall-hack". Right now there are 2 main branches of cheats:

1) Opengl32.dll hacks
2) client.dll hacks

The first type of hack involves moving/renaming the opengl32.dll and replacing it with a proxy opengl32.dll that has cheat functionality enabled. This type of cheat seems pretty simple to fix since all you really need to do is check the integrity of the opengl32 dll. The problem here is people run a lot of versions of opengl32.dll so you can't make many assumptions about the file attributes in terms of size, checksum, date, etc... Just because opengl hook .dlls are small now doesn't mean they'll stay that way. The dll's behavior on the other hand could be monitored effectively.

The other type of .dll you have is the halflife client.dll hook. This one is a lot more sophisticated in that it interfaces directly with the halflife engine. This means the cheat can determine exactly where the head is for headshot/aim bots. These cheats were as an .exe patch for halflife and affect the files in halflife. Fortunately, everyone needs to be using the latest version of half-life to play online so they can make very valid assumptions about both the file behaviors as well as their attributes/checksum/file size.

In my opinion, Valve should initally address cheating by a hack approach targeted specificly to stop the current most popular cheats, followed up shortly thereafter by a more long-term, general approach that would be a lot harder for cheat programmers to get around.

Valve has a really big incentive to stop cheats. Their whole reputation is in half-life / tf2. If they become known as that company that can't stop the cheaters, noone will want to buy TF2 if/when it comes out.

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72. BACK TO THE POINT Nov 6, 2001, 12:19 anon@195.149
How about focusing on the anti-cheat methods themselves

The most prevelant cheat around at the moment is the wallhack - am I right or wrong in saying this is an issue with a certain type of driver for a certain type of gfx card - If so then they could quite simply stop the use of that paticular type of driver with the latest patch and force the user to update to the latest driver - which I'm informed won't give them this seeing through walls ability

The anti-cheat update has got to be server based - I think thats basically it - the servers could then be geared to pulling down the latest updates automatically from a master server say - that way you could cut down the need for umpteen client updates. If you can automatically update an anti-virus program this way then an anti-cheat program would work - those detected cheating should have their won-id's banned after so many detections - or their IP addresses etc... and the results could be posted on the master server say - name and shame them - you could even have their model change colour perhaps if the server detects the cheat - and give other players a chance to vote them off - I see a lot of servers where this is disabled (voting off) - but if the server can detect who's cheating - this could be activated automatically

To sum up I think CS is a huge success - which has been blighted by cheating - a cheater enters a game and it quickly turns into a bitching match - I see it all the time and It could in future seriously effect games - paticularly as more and more people play on line

Lets hope Valve listen and do the right thing
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71. Re: Just get on with it Nov 6, 2001, 11:51 anon@129.130
Thats a dumb comment  
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70. Re: No subject Nov 5, 2001, 23:37 anon@207.190
You're right. The publishers should keep on making the same game with the same content and charging the same price for years just because it the most popular, instead of repackaging it with more content and lowering the price.

And as far as ripping on the realism of Half-Life, I've got to tell you that I really am a HWGuy in real life, and Valve didn't do the goggles like they were supposed to. We wear ones with reflective lenses like Randy the Macho Man Savage does, not the wuss ass scuba goggles they picture us with. And we've got a lot more hair on our bodies too!!
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69. Re: No subject Nov 5, 2001, 23:37 anon@63.127
Please, rifles themselves are not all that heavy. The M-16's the military is now phasing out weighed 8.5lbs with a full clip. Granted after running a while or marching for miles, yes it got heavy, but not so heavy it was hard to fire, and the recoil was a joke. The M-4 Carbines are even lighter with just as little recoil.

When it comes to the technique, though you are correct. IMO the model should bring the weapon up to eye level when standing in place (unless it already does and I just fail to notice) because no matter how much recoil it has, it's very uncontrollable firing from the hip.
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68. Re: Just get on with it Nov 5, 2001, 23:10 anon@63.161
So Tomb Raider, Army Men and the *Hunter series are good games?  
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67. No subject Nov 5, 2001, 20:12 teh mane man
No, good games are the ones that sell enough the first time that they don't need to be repackaged and dictated six ways from sunday.

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66. Re: Just get on with it Nov 5, 2001, 20:05 anon@194.131
right, i can't actually believe what a dickhead you are. the only games that are worth anything are the one's that are repackaged. those that are repackaged more than once are usually the only ones that managed to sell enough copies that anyone would care.

cs is the most popular mod on the planet. they could repackage it any which way from sunday.

GOOD games are the only games that can be stuck in a different box 3 times a year.
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65. No subject Nov 5, 2001, 17:40 teh mane man
"10 Months? and you're a CS expert? ROFLMAO!!!! It's been retail for longer than that. I've been playing it since beta 3. Yeah, BETA. y'know, that thing they did for 1.5 years before CS retail ever hit the shelf?
Sit your BS "I'm l33t3r th@n j00" ass down in the back."

I have never said I was a CS expert. I had simply implied that I had encountered a sizeable amout of players through vigorous play for ten months. Now please, children, you do know you're dealing with grown-ups now.

Oh, and I had HL ever since it came out. So no, I didn't buy the retail version of CS (if you had any doubt, by the way).
This comment was edited on Nov 5, 17:43.
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64. Hope on the horizon Nov 5, 2001, 15:57 anon@208.61
I hope with the advent of more savy players games that dont take cheating into consideration will die before they even become popular. Wolf3d is a prime example, if they are not careful and allow the game to be release with the current level of protection no one will play. Valve ID and the likes should take note gaming online wont survive with out greater better protection. I once read that they are aware fo the number of cheaters and are afraid of losing thier business. Cheaters are more prevelant they we wish to believe.  
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63. Re: No subject Nov 5, 2001, 15:38 anon@204.97
"I have played CS for about ten months now. I think I have encountered a lot of players."
-"teh mane man" post #31

10 Months? and you're a CS expert? ROFLMAO!!!! It's been retail for longer than that. I've been playing it since beta 3. Yeah, BETA. y'know, that thing they did for 1.5 years before CS retail ever hit the shelf?
Sit your BS "I'm l33t3r th@n j00" ass down in the back.
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62. ahhahaah Nov 5, 2001, 10:46 anon@64.212
hha cs su><0rzz u lamzz th@ cheetZ r s0 ez nad fvn to yooz hahh i laff when i kill sum dum@ss tahts palyin 4 real hhaha paly q3 now tehres a REAL game yeah i'm out

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61. Re: CYA CS Nov 5, 2001, 05:32 anon@192.187
>The game was great. The cheats killed it.
>Devs: PLEASE more goal oriented teamplay.

u're kay!
Totally agreed, Cheaters farless usual in TFC, because is more goal oriented. Plz remove that frag based scoring. Ppl only looks a good kills:deaths ratio... That's promotes cheating.
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60. Re: Security by Obscurity Nov 5, 2001, 03:33 anon@24.16
wp Raven.

Yes, security through obscurity is just an absolutely crap way to handle these things. It's exactly what games continue to use; and they continue to be broken.

The basic problem is that good developers who have NO CLUE about security and cheat-prevention somehow continue to think that just throwing more and more layers on something will magically make it uncrackable. (c.f. id's constant protocol changes, all of which have been met with aimbots in a matter of weeks at most).

Some people never learn.
It basically comes down to developer arrogance: this attitude of "i am smartey computar man!!! thoes hax)rs will nevar brake my 1337 new code!!!". And of course, 3 days later the cracks are all over the net. Every time.

The reason id tend to be the only company ever actually making any headway in this area is that Carmack is actually smart enough to understand that he ISN'T an expert at this stuff, so he does his homework.

Anything can be broken, but it basically boils down to "how much effort will it take to break this; and how much effort will it be for us to get ahead again?". Use the right kind of scheme, and that ratio rapidly tilts very strongly in your favour. OTOH, clueless developers continuing to "invent" schemes that are just variations on the ones I used to crack 20 years ago bias it just as far in the opposite direction, and typically it takes far less time to crack the protection than it did to write it in the first place.

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59. Re: No subject Nov 5, 2001, 02:45 anon@209.208
Actually assault rifles aren't that heavy, but ammo is very heavy. I have an AK-47 and several 5 round clips, 30 round clips and 100 round drums. The 100 round drum more than doubles the weight of the weapon.  
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58. lamers Nov 4, 2001, 20:59 anon@24.4
i've played since we had to write our own games
hl has a quality.uncompared
. I love the game
. I loved Doom, I love Quake
but to see a game reduced to its knees by assholes
like I've seen Quake, Delta Force ,Doom ,Quake 2,3 make me sick.
If u guys can stop the abuse to fair game players, with out them having to hide behind a firewall or a fair server passworded. then perhaps it's wprth it!

i hope u do it, and gods speed in ur endevors!!

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57. OMG Nov 4, 2001, 17:43 anon@24.17
get your panties all in a bunch for no reason....remember the game is NOT a simulation [hello grunts] actually its a game that was made to be fun...still is if you know how to find a decent server....You can knock the game and its players all day and night...but tommorow its still gonna have 14,000 servers up and running.


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76 Replies. 4 pages. Viewing page 1.
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