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mouseboyx

Gray Area Cheating?

18 posts in this topic
20 hours ago, Kavawuvi said:

 

This might seem a little elitist, but I really do think that trying to support really low end graphics holds games back.

 


Generally I would agree with that, doesn't seem elitist to me. At the time though that's almost all there was, and a lot less people bothering to look at system requirements/recommendations for that matter. Unless Gbx had waited for years I don't actually see how the pc port would've survived if they didn't. They certainly should've waited though imo, especially with the monstrosity of dial up netcode.

Edited by AntiMomentum
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Tiddy-bits:

2 hours ago, AntiMomentum said:

Generally I would agree with that, doesn't seem elitist to me. At the time though that's almost all there was, and a lot less people bothering to look at system requirements/recommendations for that matter. Unless Gbx had waited for years I don't actually see how the pc port would've survived if they didn't. They certainly should've waited though imo, especially with the monstrosity of dial up netcode.

Let me give you an example of an actually good PC game made by competent developers, Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.

 

Warcraft III is a real-time strategy game released in 2002 by Blizzard. This game was a commercial success, resulting in a sequel to the game, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, being released as an expansion. And yes, this was an actual expansion that warranted its own name, as it provided yet another fantastic set of campaigns, new multiplayer maps, tons of improvements to level editing, as well as tons of balancing changes. It's worth noting that both the original game and expansion released the same updates from then on.

 

Warcraft III also paved the way to the 2004 subscription-based MMORPG, World of Warcraft, which came out a couple years after Warcraft III came out. This game was obviously yet another commercial success.

 

Despite the fact that World of Warcraft was obviously far bigger and more commercially profitable than Warcraft III, Blizzard had a small team of developers that maintained Warcraft III through its lifespan. Warcraft III received numerous updates, bug fixes, and balancing changes over the years, as well as numerous technical updates that made the game a more enjoyable experience for people on modern systems. Here are some highlights:

  • In patch 1.21b, released in 2008, the game dropped the annoying CD requirement to play the game. (Halo PC did this in 1.08, also released later that year)
  • In patch 1.25b, released in 2011, the game was given support for higher resolution, widescreen (albeit, with stretched interfaces) aspect ratios.
  • In patch 1.29, released in 2018, the game was given native widescreen support (in addition to bug fixes and balancing changes). The game, like Halo, was originally 4:3, so this did require reworking some of the interface.
  • In patch 1.31, released in 2019, the game added DirectX 11 support for Windows users and Metal support (Apple's equivalent of Vulkan) for macOS users in addition to the usual bug fixes and balancing changes. It also dropped 32-bit support on macOS and made the game 64-bit on both versions.

So what is my point? My point is that "at the time" arguments don't apply to Halo PC. There is, in fact, zero valid excuses for what they did, no matter what way you look at it. Gearbox willingly and knowingly held the game back every single time they released a new version of this game, and even if ruining the game's visuals, audio, gameplay, and netcode got some more people to play it back then, it ultimately killed it in the end.

 

Warcraft III is not only a more niche genre than Halo PC (RTS vs. a FPS) and was older than Halo PC, but at the time, Blizzard had much bigger things going on at the same time (World of Warcraft, Overwatch, etc.). Despite that, it outlasted Halo: Combat Evolved, and it only took a shit because Blizzard completely and utterly fucked it up by cashing in on the goodwill established from Warcraft III by releasing Warcraft III: Reforged.

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2 hours ago, Kavawuvi said:

Warcraft III is a real-time strategy game released in 2002 by Blizzard. This game was a commercial success, resulting in a sequel to the game, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, being released as an expansion. And yes, this was an actual expansion that warranted its own name, as it provided yet another fantastic set of campaigns, new multiplayer maps, tons of improvements to level editing, as well as tons of balancing changes. It's worth noting that both the original game and expansion released the same updates from then on. [...]

 

I don't know what you were expecting but I don't think Gearbox, even if they wanted to, had the capacity/ authority/ right of creating an expansion/ add-on(?) to HCE.

As far as I know they were merely the messenger of bringing Halo to PC while also throwing in some new maps, weapons and a map editor.

 

2 hours ago, Kavawuvi said:

So what is my point? My point is that "at the time" arguments don't apply to Halo PC. There is, in fact, zero valid excuses for what they did, no matter what way you look at it. Gearbox willingly and knowingly held the game back every single time they released a new version of this game, and even if ruining the game's visuals, audio, gameplay, and netcode got some more people to play it back then, it ultimately killed it in the end.

 

Tbh looking back, I'm quite surprised of what a success Halo PC/CE has been over the years decades in terms of mods and custom maps.


Which also brings up the question of how long a 'developer' (I think it is debatable to call Gearbox Halos developer unlike the case of Warcraft and Blizzard) is obliged to run support and patches for their game. Considering that the game is now running on Operating Systems and Hardware with settings it was never intended to run (check the boxart). Maybe there's something about that in the EULA but who reads that anyway?

 


 

@Topic: IMO stuff like Backpack-reloading (or eg BXR) is a pest I refer to as bug abusing. These gameplay affecting mechanics are oversights of the developers that stray a game away from perfection.

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This might be getting to stray from the original post. I will certainly agree with gbx's lack of competence and the astounding lack of official maintenance/updates for halo1 though. 
 

Edited by AntiMomentum
Kavawuvi, mouseboyx and Enclusion like this

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So these may be underlying causes or belonging to an equally important group of root causes for these problems to exist in the first place.  It's interesting where this led to, but I'm also trying to think about what it would take to fix some of these issues.  Obviously the halo modding and retail communities still exist, and it's up to players and everyone to whether it continues.  And from reading some of these posts it looks like halo was dealt a crap hand to begin with.  I think the way that a halo server acts as a mediator and doesn't trust the clients to give the information themselves is a big help.  There no name games out there, one I played once was Combat Arms (an FPS counter strike knock off).  Through client modding you could do something like teleport all opponent players to a set location far outside the map and headshot them instantly with a set of hacks or cheats.  I believe a halo server would not trust a client to do that in the first place.  Back before no-lead existed I thought that the lead system was actually a sort of fair way to go about doing things, obviously not when you have high ping though, but you could adapt to having high ping.  I never played halo on dial up and usually had between 33-166 ping from the beginning, but would occasionally go to servers hosted very far away to experience 266 or 300.  It felt like a handicap but was probably fun because I knew I didn't always have to play that ping. 

 

Well, I didn't know what to expect when making this post, but some of the problems seemingly have no solution.

 

Catching cheaters in particular, and keeping them away permanently, seems difficult.  If you block all VPN connections there will be legitimate players who play on VPN's.  If you /ipban a particular cheater then they can hop on a vpn and be back in a few seconds, there is not to my knowledge a registration system for public halo servers for people to register.  Then anyone can join with anyone else's name and pretend to be that person.  I've seen scripts that can allow a name only if it connects with a certain hash though, or else it's an automatic kick.  For the clan I'm in, I cobbled together a script that allows all members to have a secret /command <password> to register their name to their IP address.  Then if someone else joins with that name and doesn't have that IP it gives them 15 seconds to re-register or else it kicks them (set up so dynamic IP's will be taken into account).  It would be interesting to see some sort of global registration that could be implemented to get a better handle on banning cheaters without much need to do self or group moderation of the servers that you own and operate.  I don't know how particularly to do that but I have ideas, hashes worked well in the old days, but do not now.  If there were some new hash type system where your client needed an addon to play on a global registered server, that might work, but still that's only an idea and there could be better ones out there.  Then there's the problem of how those "new" hashes are generated and who can get a new one and what restrictions are placed on them, it might boil down to getting pii from people which seems like more of a hassle than the current methods for dealing with cheaters.  Also the problem of organizing those hashes by how many offences they have on their record and what to do with that information, like a legit player getting banned a few times for playing against admins who can't recognize cheats vs skill or something.  All hypothetical though and I'm sure I've left out something or overlooked something, these are things that would be nice if they existed.

 

Thanks for continuing discussion and giving history and ideas.  It kind of all boils down to being individually responsible for what you put out there, whether it be cheating on a halo server, or cheating on your taxes.

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Based on what everyone has written here, it seems people define cheating as having something that other people don't have, but not always.

 

Automating your controls to get an upper advantage (aimbotting, auto firing, etc.) and abusing mods to see or do things you shouldn't see or do (wallhacking, turning on motion sensor, making it so you can shoot while holding the flag/oddball, sightjacking enemies you aren't suspecting of cheating, changing your FoV to fake zooming in, etc.) are clear-cut cheating.

 

Changing your settings to get the best chance of seeing players (e.g. turning off particles to see players through explosions, tweaking Halo's config DisableAlphaRenderTargets to make the camo easier to see, etc.) is NOT cheating since anyone can do it in the game, itself, but it is an abuse of settings intended for ancient PCs that can't actually run the game without them, and it isn't how you're supposed to play the game.

 

Abusing bugs is not cheating. However, again, it isn't how you're supposed to play the game. People do it all the time as second-nature, so it may as well be allowed (i.e. "it's not a bug, it's a feature"). Mods CAN exist to fix these bugs, but nobody wants to use them because it strays away from what many have now defined as the core gameplay.

 

Mods that give features or fix things that players don't have may be a gray area, but in most cases, aren't a cheat.

 

For example, changing your field of view to something above 70 degrees (technically ~63 degrees) was never intended by the developer to be a thing, and it absolutely gives you an advantage over players who don't have the mod, even if you use a reasonable field of view (e.g. 90 degrees at 16:9 is reasonable). It can be argued that most people are running mods that have this feature at their disposal, but before hacking the field of view because commonplace, most people were viewing the game at this low field of view, and relatively few people were running a mod that fixed it. Today, there are probably only be a few people actually running the stock game, so it can be reasonable to assume most people have a FoV mod of some kind.

 

Also, some mods fix things that other mods don't. For example, some mods (such as Chimera) fix vehicle camera centering being tied to frame rate but others don't. As a result, driving a vehicle while playing the game at a high frame rate is only possible with these mods, where driving without these mods can be difficult unless you lock the frame rate to 60 or 30 FPS. It can be reasonable to assume that many players do not have such a fix and thus you are at an advantage if you have the fix, and it can be argued that developers never intended for this to be fixed (even if the bug shouldn't have existed).

 

So I suppose the benchmark for determining if X feature is a cheat is:

  • Does everyone playing the game have the option to use it? If so, then it's NOT a cheat.

    Abusing the game's settings and bugs, while possibly annoying to people wanting to play the game as intended, is not actually cheating. Also, server mods that provide buffs such as increased speed, unlimited ammo, etc. are not cheating provided every player has access to it.
     
  • Does it provide a gameplay advantage if you have it on? If not, then it's NOT a cheat.

    Changing the Warthog's texture to be Hot Wheels, while making the game 100x more awesome than everyone else's versions of the game, is not cheating.
     
  • Is it reasonable for a game like this to have this as a feature? If not, then it's NOT a cheat, but it is more of a gray area since it does still provide an unintended (and technically unfair) advantage.

    Fixing bugs is not cheating, nor is adding quality of life improvements like adjusting the field of view (within reason).

Anything that fails this benchmark is most likely a cheat. This includes actual cheats or abusing mods on the client (or server, such as giving you god mode on your own server).

 


20 hours ago, tarikja said:

I don't know what you were expecting but I don't think Gearbox, even if they wanted to, had the capacity/ authority/ right of creating an expansion/ add-on(?) to HCE.
As far as I know they were merely the messenger of bringing Halo to PC while also throwing in some new maps, weapons and a map editor.

I don't think I can expect much from Gearbox. Several of their ports are well-known dumpster fires. Halo Custom Edition is generally presented and advertised as an 'expansion' or 'add-on' to the game, and if Gearbox had no authority to make it, they didn't care.

 

20 hours ago, tarikja said:

Tbh looking back, I'm quite surprised of what a success Halo PC/CE has been over the years decades in terms of mods and custom maps.

I suppose the community are to be thanked for keeping the game alive despite all odds. Without the many talented people who developed mods, maps, and fixes for this game, I highly doubt it would've survived this long on its own.

 

20 hours ago, tarikja said:

Which also brings up the question of how long a 'developer' (I think it is debatable to call Gearbox Halos developer unlike the case of Warcraft and Blizzard) is obliged to run support and patches for their game. Considering that the game is now running on Operating Systems and Hardware with settings it was never intended to run (check the boxart). Maybe there's something about that in the EULA but who reads that anyway?

Technically, unless there's a legal agreement, no developer is obligated to support their games once they're released. And yes, that even means that it is actually perfectly reasonable for a developer to release a heavily buggy, broken game and call it a day if they want to as long as the game otherwise works as advertised. My example with Warcraft III boils down to the fact that Halo PC did not have to be this way, nor is there any excuse for it to be that way.

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19 minutes ago, Kavawuvi said:

I suppose the community are to be thanked for keeping the game alive despite all odds. Without the many talented people who developed mods, maps, and fixes for this game, I highly doubt it would've survived this long on its own

Halo being a fun game at its based combined with people who wanted to make it fun in different and unique ways has kept it alive. Sometimes there is a point where a game is broken just enough to make people angry enough to fix it but not angry enough to quit which might actually benefit the game in some ways (still would prefer the game to just work well, obviously).

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