KNOW YOUR ENEMY [Author: Eldin]

Yesterday, near the conclusion of my Asheron’s Call update, I mentioned that even KoC/Blood are starting to complain about rampant cheating on the Darktide server (mainly because someone has better cheats than they do). Soon after publishing the update, I received the following e-mail:

The issue with those core gens (the dagashi, blattos, deliquent, etc.) is that they have hex edited the godmode fix out. Basically, the mechanism that catches if you have jumped too recently is placed client side, and therefore can be hexed out without the server detecting it. It’s the same kind of error catching mechanism that prevents you from logging into 2 separate accounts at the same time, but obviously Turbine doesn’t care about that(READ: public support of

(Editor’s Note: I have spoken with a Turbine Dev, and they support programs such as AC Explorer and Decal, beneficial programs that do not unbalance the game or give players an undue advantage.)

Furthermore, because the GEAR fix was placed in the client also, you already have some of the core’s from gen working on a way to hex the fix out when it is finished. I’m not sure if I understood the conversation completely, but the gist of the thing was that GEN plans on patching the GEAR fix out when they turn it on, and they have several good ideas about how to do it.

After further inquiries about hacking the GEAR fix, I received this reply:

As far as hexing the GEAR code out I had about a 20 min
conversation with [a player] about it after the screenshot (forgot to take more)
and he was saying that the code was in, it just wasn’t turned on. There was
some kind of variable they had found that was stored that told the server
how many times you had de-synched from the server in suspicious manner. What
he was saying was that sometimes when you lag out on the server, it’ll look
like gear use so they can’t ban you on the first suspicious incidence. But,
what they were looking at is either writing a patch to reset the variable
every time they logged off, or figure out how to disable the detection all

Do the devs know about this?

The devs know that hex editing is done to allow for dual logging. As far as knowing about hex editing for different purposes, I doubt that VERY seriously. The core GENS are keeping this under wraps. They are pretty
arrogant about the whole thing. They think they are the ones who introduced
GEAR to the server, and now it’s a complete mess, so they are trying to keep
this hex edited client on the dl.

(Note: During my conversation with a Turbine dev, the dev informed me they were well aware of the hex editing).

Do you know for certain the GEAR fixes are being placed client side?

According to the guy I was talking to, part of the mechanism for detection is client side. That’s as certain as I can be without opening the client in a hex editor myself and finding it. I need to reemphasize that they do not yet know how to disable the GEAR fix, but they have disabled the godmode fix. Hexing the GEAR fix out, from what I understand, was very complicated.

I received a screen shot of parts of the conversation between the source and a GEN player, however, I’m withholding it to protect the source’s anonymity.

The Turbine dev informed me the variable mentioned in the above mails is in fact server-side. The dev had this to say:

The fellow that’s worked on the gear detection is a smart cookie (one of the original people that decrypted our net protocols/data formats). He’s pretty sure that they won’t get around it client side (unlike the jump-casting “fix”, which we knew was client-side and thus hackable).

In Asheron’s Call, a small measure of a character’s movement is placed client-side in order to reduce the overall lag on the server. This allows hacks to be made on many game mechanics involving character animation. One of the latest hacks involves hexing out the spell-casting animations, resulting in instant spell-casting. According to one source, only five or so core members of GEN have knowledge of this hack.

I’m disturbed. These guilds are no longer playing Asheron’s Call. They are involving themselves in hacker wars. The in-game battle is secondary to battle occurring outside Dereth. The fact the integrity of the very game they fight over is a possible casualty of their damaging behavior seems immaterial to them. They do not love the game, and they care nothing for it. They exist merely to indulge their own egos. If sacrificing the game and the integrity of the virtual world on the altar of smug, self-satisfaction is what needs to happen to sate their lust for grief and “ownage,” then so be it.

These players are not only the enemies of dev teams everywhere. They are our enemies. They threaten our virtual worlds. They threaten our gaming experience. We must remain vigilant against them.

When the GEAR fix goes in, I have been told the bannings will begin. I feel for Turbine, here. Microsoft controls player discipline. Turbine cannot ban. They must wait for Microsoft to take action. They must clear bringing the servers down for a hot fix with Microsoft.

Aside from the obvious questions addressing player punishment, there are others involving game mechanics. How much of the code should be placed on the client for the sake of lag reduction? Is there a way to reduce lag without sacrificing code to the client?

With a new generation of games now on the near horizon, devs and players alike will have to face those questions and seek out some tough answers.

Good luck, Turbine. Score one for the good guys . . . for the children.