A Brief History of Video Game Cheating

Original author: Andrew Tarantola
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Immediately since mankind began to play games, people appeared who wanted to break the rules for the sake of victory. Whether it is a cheating dice, card counting or a hipball hit by a pinball machine - you can argue for anything: if there is a game with probabilities, then someone is probably trying to pull the odds to his side.

In the modern era of online games and console gaming, the situation has not changed, and the most famous cheats in the history of video games are inserted by the developers themselves. The Konami Code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start) is probably the most popular cheat code in history. He was added to the 1985 Gradius game for NES by game developer Kazuhisa Hashimoto, who discovered during debugging that the game was too complicated.

“They put a lot of effort into testing,” Stee Pickford, one of the developers of Solar Jetman , Plok and Equinox , told Red Bull in 2014 . “In the era of 8-bit games, the interfaces were usually very simple, no huge menu screens to which cheat lists could be added. Therefore, the cheat code in the front end was often used by testers to quickly get into different parts of the game or test different functions. Some of them accidentally remained in the release versions. " The ability to skip to almost anywhere in the game saved a lot of time during testing and debugging, which is why the cheat for choosing levels in Sonic the Hedgehog appeared

(hold A, press up, down, left, right, and after the beep, press Start). In addition, features selection cheats, such as the ABACABB code from Mortal Kombat , also served to turn on blood and meat.

Such codes often had personal relevance for developers. ABACABB is a tribute to Phil Collins's Genesis group, which has the same name as the Sega console [approx. trans .: Genesis has an album called Abacab].

In addition, cheat codes could be useful for resumes. “We created great code at Ken Griffey presents Major League Baseballfor SNES, ”says Pickford. “The code transferred the player from the screen saver straight to the end credits of the game. This allowed all employees of the development department to instantly prove that we were working on this game, because in those days the creators of the games did not often receive recognition. If I am not mistaken, the code was "BADBUBBA". "Bubba" is the school nickname of the producer and designer of the game. "

But in the working code of the game, not only the developers rummaged. In the era of Commodore 64 computers, players inserted POKE commands before accessing a program to access the contents of individual memory cells. The POKE team was present at Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. It allowed players to change various values ​​and improve their characteristics, include damage protection and otherwise modify the gameplay. For example, by entering the POKE 755, 4 command on an Atari 8-bit system, we will instruct the graphics card to invert all on-screen text. Of course, finding the right memory location was a trial and error process.

By the time the Nintendo company seized the game market with its NES console, these home-made modifications had already become a popular activity - players shared various exploits in the offline clubs of gamers and through word of mouth.

Cheating on 8-bit systems over time has become a real commercial industry: Codemasters released the Game Genie cartridge, Datel released Action Replay, and Mad Catz - GameShark. For example, the Game Genie device had versions for Sega Genesis, NES, Super NES, and even for portable systems such as Game Boy and Game Gear. After the transition of consoles to disk media, GameShark and Code Breaker devices gained popularity.

In fact, such cheating systems were "POKE teams for dummies." They worked in exactly the same way as manually dialed POKEs — they accessed the program’s memory and changed values ​​before starting the game, only had a graphical interface that inexperienced users could understand. Such devices instantly became hits and contributed to the onset of the "golden age" of cheating.

By the mid-90s, cheating in video games had become a real trend. Nintendo Power Magazine, which began to be published in 1988, was received with enthusiasm. The publication contained many tips and tricks for passing the most popular games, as well as gaming industry news. The Nintendo Power Line service, launched simultaneously with the magazine and worked until the Internet killed him in 2010, provided gamers with telephone assistance from professional consultants. First published in 1995, Tips and Tricks

Magazine placed even more emphasis on various aspects of cheating. Everything was printed in it, from lists of popular codes to reviews of new POKE cartridges. There was even a whole television show dedicated to cheating in video games. Show Cheat!It was launched on the G4 cable network in 2002 and lasted until 2009, releasing as many as 174 episodes. Although none of these media exist anymore, their popularity has had a lasting effect on the industry because they performed the functions that the strategy, walkthrough, and tooltip guide sites now perform.

Despite the market being conquered by consoles, PC game developers in the 1990s continued to embed code that saved time during testing. Take the 1996 Quake game, for example . By pressing the “~” key in it, it was possible to open the developer's console, into which any codes modifying the game’s behavior were entered . The console allowed you to change the player’s state, switch between levels, go through walls, fly and turn on god mode. In addition, any command could be attached to a keystroke and turned on instantly.

Not surprisingly, this practice is used today. During testing, developers still need to get quick access to various parts and situations within the game, and enterprising players continue to look for shortcuts to victory.Doom (2016) for PC also has an equally wide list of cheat codes entered via the command line. Having opened the developer’s console by pressing Ctrl + Alt + ~, players can turn on the god mode, receive fully upgraded equipment and weapons, or open unexplored areas on the mission map. Same story with Fallout 4 for PC. It is enough to press the tilde key (~) and come off in full .

Gradually, online games on consoles and PCs switched from split screen mode and LAN parties to the Internet, and cheats followed. And here the problems started. Cheating in a game for one or two players is not a serious problem. The worst thing that can happen is an adversary or a game will call you a fraud, as, for example, it was inSuper Mario 64 .

But when you start cheating in online games, it directly affects, and most often negatively, all the other players in the match. Anyone who was killed by a camper with aimbot and wall hack in CounterStrike: Global Offensive can confirm this. Even using in-game glitches, for example, Last Stand Grenade Trick in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or disabling the router before losing in a Starcraft game, can ruin the game for other users. Survey

conducted in 2018 among 9,436 users by Irdeto Global Gaming Surveyshowed that 60 percent of respondents felt the negative impact of repeated meetings with cheaters. A study conducted among players from China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States also found that 77 percent of respondents were more likely to finish playing online multiplayer if they suspected that other players were cheating, and 48 percent said that with less likely to buy in-game content.

And since the success of an online game requires a large-scale and active user base, their developers cannot give freedom to a small group of cheaters that spoil the game of the main part of the community. Therefore, the gaming industry is constantly looking for ways to counter the influence of cheaters, and its methodology varies greatly depending on games and platforms. Banning players for cheating has long been a useful punishment for game developers, as is anti-cheat software like PunkBuster.

PunkBuster developed by Even Balance Inc is designed to detect the use of cheating software in online games. It was first released in 2000 for the Half-Life game . The PunkBuster client runs locally in the player’s system and in real time scans the memory in search of known cheats, hacks, key settings or forbidden scripts, and the program’s servers ask all clients connected to them for frequent status updates (including screenshots).

If a player is found to be breaking the rules, then PunkBuster administrators can remove him from the game for a certain period of time or permanently ban his GUID, which is tied to the license key of the game; therefore, to start playing again, the player will have to buy another copy of the game. Mostly PunkBuster is used in FPS and action games. Franchises such as Battlefield , Ghost Recon , Rainbow Six , Medal of Honor and CoD , as well as Assassin's Creed , FarCry 2 and 3 are used by this service .

Anti-cheat systems exist on the server side, and the most famous of them is FairFight. AAA studios like EA, Crytek, PopCap, Dice and Ubisoft, as well as many indies, use middleware. Instead of installing itself in the player’s system and constantly scanning it for invalid third-party code, FairFight examines the player’s actions and compares them with “a lot of statistical markers to detect cheaters.” FairFight cross-checks these indicators using server-side reporting tools and takes measures if the results of both checks correlate with cheating, ”the company’s website explains. As soon as the system finds a likely cheat, admins can apply punishments of varying degrees of severity - from a simple warning to an unconditional ban.

Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) is not so lenient. Her bans are given “forever, not discussed and cannot be removed by the Steam support team,” says the Steam support page.

This fully automated administrator is located on the server side and scans each player connecting to a Steam-protected VAC server. “If a user connects to a secure VAC server from a computer on which the defined cheats are installed, then the VAC system bans the player, forbidding him to continue to play on servers protected by VAC.”

The moment the # eXTREMESLAND2018 administrators caught forsaken and he was trying to remove the hack.

The OpTic India esports team did not take VAC into account at Extremesland Zowie Asia CS: GO 2018. During the $ 100,000 tournament , the VAC caught Nikhil “forsaken” Kumawat from OpTic using aimbot. Therefore, the team without ceremony was kicked out of the tournament, after which it had to be dissolved.

For ordinary cheaters, this can be a serious problem. But for professional gamers, cheating on cheating can be a disastrous end to a career. Recently, this happened to make sure the player in Fortnite Damion «XXiF» Cook. However, Cook did not expose the AI, but his own fans.

During a $ 30 million prize qualifying game for the Fortnite World Cup, viewers noticed that Cook made incredibly successful hits, and suspected that this pro-gamer had conspired with friends who let him kill himself to get into the tournament. This type of cheating, called teaming, implies that solo players join together to influence the outcome of an online game. Unfortunately for Epic Games, such behavior can in no way be tracked automatically, because cheaters just call on the phone and coordinate their actions in real life.

Cheats are not always used to give players an unfair advantage over computers or live opponents. Recently, the gaming industry has begun to make successful attempts to make games more inclusive and convenient for becoming increasingly diverse and louder about the player base . Therefore, developers often add “cheats” as “Easter eggs”, which make the game more accessible (and more interesting) for casual players. The “helper mode” used in Super Mario Odyssey and Celeste helps reduce gameplay complexity by reducing or eliminating deadly dangers or increasing health settings. In Mario Kart 8 DeluxeThere is a similar function: the game gives the player the ability to automatically control or accelerate. When used correctly, such a function can make the race against younger or less dexterous drivers more equal.

Of course, game manufacturers also see a source of profit in cheats. Instead of simply giving away bonuses or improvements using secret teams, publishers sell them, and players happily buy them as DLCs or in-game microtransactions. For example, Assassin's Creed: Odyssey gives players the opportunity to increase experience generation by 50 percent, but not by entering tricky teams, but for only $ 10 .

Whether you use them or not, cheats remain an unavoidable aspect of modern games. They help developers test and debug programs faster, and also support players who cannot handle the complexity of the game.

Obviously, the behavior of players such as XXiF and forsaken is harmful, like poker card counting or a little deflated Patriots ball for American football. There is cheating for pleasure, but there is fraud for making money, and you definitely should not do the second one. However, with prudent and balanced use, cheats can make games convenient and fun for everyone.

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