243: The Thin Red Line

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Most game mods are shoved so far up their asses, that they are beyond knowing what's wrong and what's right.

Achievement servers, to me, were a way of being on the same playing field as someone else. Not to put myself above, to put myself level.

Then valve fixed this by making 90% of their weapons crap anyway (syringe gun update, and the spies dead ringer/cloak and dagger were really the only ones that come to mind as being definitively better.)

I enjoyed this article. It's just a shame that when glitching is in so many online games that this article only focused on Valve games.

CounterAttack:

I knew that my actions were not entirely innocent, but I was following the school of thought that said it was better than the alternative (i.e. playing at a disadvantage because I didn't have access to the new weapons).

In Team Fortress 2, I personally think those who play with the original weapons are generally better than those who use the new ones, because they're skilled enough with them to use them without being at a disadvantage. Being mainstream in-game is, in my opinion, a failure.

Take the Demoman for example, and his new play styles after the War update. Anyone who plays TF2 knows that two of the unlockable weapons for the Demo are the Eyelander and the Chargin' Targe, a sword that allows for instant decapitations, and a small shield that enables the Demo to rush at the enemy, allowing them to deal a guaranteed critical hit at the high point of the charge. This gives the Demo a new role in the team; offense. Now I'm not saying it's a bad idea in theory, but Valve needs to take the noobs, lazy players and achievement farmers into account in future.

Since the release of the Soldier/Demo update, almost everyone instantly hit the grinding servers to grab the blade and the shield. Then they all rushed back into the regular servers, once they had the few achievements needed to unlock the two items, and started charging around the place decapitating the other team and getting into a 10-on-10 Demo-fest. Now, I played Demoman before the update, and played reasonably well. These days I've practically given up on the Scottish cyclops on account of being called a noob because I don't have the "cheap kill combo" as I put it. Instead, I stick to the old, tried-and-true sticky bomb launcher and scrumpy bottle, and they work far better than a sword and shield. The Demoman was originally designed for a defensive role. The weapons are also why I fought for the Soldier in the War; because I genuinely thought his new items were better than the Demo's.

While I'm on a roll, this one goes out to achievement grinders: uninstall the game. As soon as a new class update is released, the grinders will hit the achievement servers to, you guessed it, grind for achievements. This makes the server lists ridiculously populated with achievement servers, and little to no people play on a real server.
I have never used a grinder server, and I never will. I enjoy getting achievements. Sometimes I'll go out of my way just to get one that I find amusing at the time. The "Have a Plan" achievement for the Sniper made me laugh. A Sniper doesn't normally go round capturing the intelligence, so I did it for the lulz, completely ignoring the fact that Scouts can do the job three times as fast. And hey, I won the match for the team.

Back on topic: those people who grind for achievements, and subsequently new weapons, should have their items removed. An ironic punishment, but it works, although I have no idea how it would be enforced. Achievements should be for things that aren't planned ahead, such as using Jarate to extinguish a burning teammate, or notable accomplishments in the heat of battle, like taking out five enemies in a row without letting go of your trigger as a Heavy.

And with that, my rant of the day is complete, and I believe I've made my point(s). Enjoy. =D

You complain too much.

And more importantly, you should let the other people who also paid for the game play their own way. You don't like it? Don't share servers with them.

There should be a Godwin's law of games and cheating:

"The longer a topic continues about cheating, the likeliness someone will bring up sirlin.net gets closer to 1"

And.... there, I did it!

The reason I bring up Sirlin is his works and wrings about Cheats and Exploits being prepared for during Game Design. At some point, game exploits and bugs will be found after the final release has shipped. What the developers and community does afterwards is what will decide the fate of the game. The Exploit of Rocket Jumping for example has traveled far from it's early days of Doom as a glitch, into what we accept now as a required FPS Skill. The Line itself comes from the gray area of playing.

Let's call map exploits into attention. The usual rule is that anything above ground is fair game. Any exploits below ground it is a possible ban. Any "Thru Walls" exploit is subject to discussion. The reasoning behind this is that in most games, a ground tile will always be defined as passable from below to top. If you hide in side the ground, then the game itself becomes who can use the exploit the quickest? The game usually dies there after. (Read: SOCOM 2 on PS2, and it's jungle level with the missing wall)

MvC2 is full of exploits, but the flustercluck of characters kinda made the issue fix itself. It's a so broken, it's fixed type game where each good character can find something to exploit.

In closing though, the Achievements and Idle servers where not "exploits" in my opinion, but they where cheating like beating a game in "god mode" is cheating. The people who cheated didn't gain any aside from side-grade weapons. The game itself was still intact. Value pulled off an amazing move with the cheater's lament event, where as even though who stayed "pure" where rewarded. It wasn't so much an exploit call, it was just a dick move...

Funny and wonderful all the same.

Booze Zombie:
Valve made a terrible system that randomly handed out items, annoying those who felt they had earned an item which people who "did less than them" got instead.
They then punished everyone who felt bitter about this system, those who tried to get the items they felt they had earned by playing just as much as the people who happened to get hats.

Valve didn't try to correct their broken system, it seems like they just punished everyone who dared to be insulted by chaos.
They could've talked to the players instead, made a better system, simply stop idle-programs from working and move on like nothing happened.

I think Valve have got a lot to learn in public relations.

The thing is, why should Valve allow them to keep items gained from an external program when simply playing the damn game would net you the same reward, but no punishment? The system isn't broken, people just place too much importance on hats, which are so unimportant to gameplay that it makes me shake my head when people bitch about it. The rest of the items are earned through achievements (with the exception of the Gunboats) which don't require as many to be unlocked, and except for the Medic's achievements, they're not even hard to earn in the first place. If the system is "broken" simply because some players are luckier than others, then you people need to re-evaluate what makes something "broken" in the first place. Also, they're freaking hats. Come on, now.

I feeled compelled to mention the care package glitch in MW2.
People who used it used to tell me that it was in the game, and thus a legitimate stragegy.
It got removed, and if the developers didn't see it as such, it mustn't have been as such.
Yet they still beleived in it, until it was removed.

Sinister Minister:
If the system is "broken" simply because some players are luckier than others, then you people need to re-evaluate what makes something "broken" in the first place. Also, they're freaking hats. Come on, now.

People didn't want the hats because they did anything, they wanted them because they didn't have them.

If the hats were simply earned for skill like everything else, then there would be no issue, they'd be delightfully silly novelty items, nothing more.

I for one am definitely in the exploits are cheating camp. I think the reasoning behind using an exploit and thinking it's kosher just because "the developers" haven't fixed it is deliberately ignorant. Skill at a game is defined by operating within the parameters put forward by the designers and achieving a good or great result. Using some loophole or bug to achieve the same result totally negates any accomplishment.

For a while I played at a serious level in CoD4 and while my clan maintained a strict policy on modding or exploiting bugs, it was a constant battle when coming into conflict with other clans who had no such inhibitions. In my opinion, the game suffers when people like that act in that sort of manner. That's not to say that exploiters aren't skilled players because in my experience it's generally the most talented who feel the need to improve their game and even a slight edge, such as being able to see through a wall or climb a building, can tip the balance when confronting a team of similar ability.

Using exploits to your advantage is comparable to committing a crime that hasn't got adequate punishment within the law because it's previously gone unabused or unnoticed. You can't then claim you didn't think it was wrong just because the law wasn't fully up to date and likewise you can't complain when you are punished above and beyond what has previously occurred. The problem is that the true authority which detains exploiting for personal benefit is the person's moral compass. Most people generally don't give a shit about the game or other people enough to actually take a look and think about what they're doing.

This was an interesting article and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it but I feel like I have to agree with your friend. As far as I'm concerned you did cheat.

If it weren't for exploits, fighting games wouldn't have combos (canceling special moves, and links where bugs in the programing).

Honestly, I think the situation with TF2's hats was one of the most poorly handled "cheating" situations ever. Valve never took 2 seconds to just say, "hey, that's not cool". Players tried to open a dialog and they refused. Only when the hammer came down did they affirm their position.

In completely clear-cut cases of cheating or exploiting that may be one thing, but there were a lot of people who thought there was nothing wrong with having a program just idle you on a server. And that's Valve's own fault, because they set a complete double standard by obviously not having a problem with all the achievement and idle servers that parade the server list.

So the guy who booted TF2 and jumped on an achievement server was REWARDED, but the guy who loaded a little console window that simulated the same thing was punished. That in my mind is a bit insane. Or at the least, unprofessional and just plain childish. The war that sparked after that event, the community divided by that little halo, forced me to leave TF2. I haven't really returned since...

Companies really need to stop with the silent treatment and start being very open with their gamers. If someone asks, "is this bad, can I do this?" Then it's a really simple answer.

Yes or no.

TF2 is so much better now that everyone who would leave over something as insignificant as the Halo issue has left.

Again, idling is allowed and continues to this day. Using external programs to send fake info to Steam servers is NOT allowed, and was punished.

I have no problem in exploiting as many glitches and game loopholes as I can - in a single player game. When it's just me versus the game, and the game makes a mistake, I will ruthlessly take advantage of said mistake. I don't see the enemies stopping to see if I'm okay because I did something stupid like hit the wrong button and accidentally drop a grenade at my own feet.

However, in multiplayer games, I do my very best to not cheat. I test games to the limit, and try and combine weapons and tools in any new way I can think of, but if I realize that what I'm doing gives me a seriously unfair advantage or was never intended to work that way, I'll abandon it. There are several maps in Halo 3, for example, that I figured out how to get on top of. I stopped doing it when I realized no one else could hit me or see me at all - such a thing is obviously not how the game is intended to be played. Some of them are now impossible to do, because the devs saw what people were doing, and patched the game. Others are still possible, but I don't do it anyway, because I don't want to draw players' attention to a potential exploit.

EDIT: And I do want to say, I'm fully aware that I'm definitely cheating my way through single player games. I don't doubt that it's cheating, I'm just not bothered by it if it can't and doesn't affect anyone else. I don't even do it most of the time - just when my skill alone isn't helping me, and I don't feel like grinding to either get better or get the XP needed to level higher, depending on the nature of the game.

I'm rather surprised the Battlefield series games weren't mentioned in the article. User-created rules such as no basewhoring or spawncamping began in BF1942, and to this day, Battlefield 2142 is one of the worst examples for why rewarding players with stronger gear for their achievements is counter-productive to a fun and fair sortie. It's not "cheat to win", it's "cheat to compete", as new or unskilled players simply cannot last when the most obsessive and aggressive players hold not only a skill/experience advantage, but better gear too.

Great article and I agree that devs should open a better dialogue with their player base. You can't give a child a toy and then start spanking them if they don't play with it the way you "intended". You need to first tell them what is or is not appropriate before implementing punishment. Of course players are not children and can tell the difference between appropriate and inappropriate but if the community says it is generally okay, why does it need to be patched and punished? You gave them the toy, let them play with it (or in the case of admins) police it as they see fit. The only exception to this would be an blatant bug in the code that gives those who exploit it an unfair advantage or allows them to skip content not intended to be skipped.

As for achievements, again it should be up to the players if they want to challenge themselves and get the big achievements. However, when you start adding things into the game that give those "achievement whores" a distinct advantage for doing nothing more than having more time to play the game, you create an imbalance that didn't otherwise exist.

Having achievements does not punish those who do not get them, but adding MMO style loot drops is like watching kids play quietly and nicely together and then giving one a cookie for spending more time on the swings than the other kids. It's a jerk move that seems to be grounded less in the "thank you for playing" and more in the "how can we stir things up" mentality.

Video games are interactive electronic toys. Why do we feel that we now need cookies in order to enjoy the toys we were previously fine with?

On TF2:
I am not a huge fan of TF2, I prefer CS.

But after buying the Orange Box I decided to give it a quick try.

It went something like this:

Oh cool, a spy. Gonna try that.
Oh nice, this is fun. Wait... Why does that guy have a different weapon?
Oh, I see, I can switch weapons. -Guess that is kind of cool.

Now let me see... No other weapons? That is odd, guess I'll google it and find out how to get them.

Unlock achievements. Ok.
*Checks achievements*

*Jaw drops*

But I only wanted to play for a little while... If I wanted to grind I would have logged on WoW instead... /sigh

Oh look, an achievement server!
Guess I can play this a little anyway. /cheer

tl;dr
TF2's unlocking does not appeal to me at all. I rarely play online shooters for long at a time, and I certainly don't want to have to grind to avoid being at a disadvantage.

The major reason I avoid online game play is spelled out and implied in this article. I no longer have the time or energy to devote to a game to remain competitive, and it is that competitiveness that drive most of the fun out of online play. After all how can I enjoy the game if I cannot stand up to even the lowlyist players at least some of the time.

Halo was likely the last game where I find myself with enough free time to become good at the game, and I was very good. Still, competitive play at a tournament brought to light a whole new issue. The level of play online was inconstant enough, and I was good enough, that I never had to learn and practice the glitches to be competitive. The vast majority of the people at the tournament seemed to be in the game less for fun then to win at all costs. They had learned all the maps inside out, learned all the glitches so they could be ready to use the allowed ones. My group had done little more then practice as a team, we knew the maps and for the most part we knew of the glitches, but had never practiced them. We still managed to place in the tournament, but the final rounds where brutal as it became more and more obvious that even the enormous amounts of playtime we had placed into the game we had little more then the baseline skills need to compete at that level, and quite possibly it was luck that had allowed us to continue as far as we did. The turning point for me came during some free time where we sat with a 15 year old kid and his friends and decimated them, practicing those glitches. Sometime during this session it occurred to me that I was no longer having fun with this game, and really what was the point in playing if I was not having fun.

As an avid TF2 player, I prefer that players get their achievements from achievement servers and not screw around in real matches where players are actually trying to win games.

I'm ready to see the demoman go altogether. He doesn't seem to have any disadvantages and is generally annoying to play against.

Is EV Training in Pokemon cheating? I hope not, because I'd be a big cheat then.

Long time reader of the Escapist; I signed up to post this. I disagree with everything in the article.

Take the Left4Dead example you gave. If everyone just accepted breaking the door as a valid mechanic, then both teams would just do it to skip a relatively minor part of the campaign, and all would be fair again until they patch it. Instead, you go and whine and complain, making the game fun for no one.

In particular this was an extremely minor glitch because both teams could just do it. The problem is that at some point you decided you knew everything about the game, and so any new strategy that arose that throws off your game, you consider cheating. That's just not how competitive gameplay works. You're no different than people who complained that hiding in the closet waiting for the elevator is cheating. Competitive gaming is a constant learning process, and you should have just taken this loss and learned from it.

As far as your Team Fortress 2 complaints go, the reason it is possible to game this system in such a stupid way is that rewarding the amount of time spent playing (since that's fundamentally what it is) with in-game bonuses is a *HORRIBLE* game mechanic. I cannot stress enough how completely asinine the unlocking system is. I was really, really pissed off that they patched in that bullshit a few months after I bought the game. I was good at the game but I had a job and a girlfriend and just didn't have another 100 hours to pour into it, so it made me quit playing. This is the same reason I never bought CoD4, and I would not have bought TF2 either had I known they would pull this shit. Rewarding time spent playing is fundamentally broken, and turns good competitive players away from the game.

For the CoD4 clan player above, the reason you were getting beaten by these other clans is because they were better than you. You were hamstrung by your own self-imposed artificial rules that the game simply does not care about, and that's why you lost. A team with your mentality would never survive in any kind of tournament play. Video game tournaments do not have 'judges' who try to figure out whether you won 'honourably and ethically'. Only the score matters.

So no, it is not a thin red line at all. There is no line; in my opinion there should be no such thing as an exploit. There are hacks of course; any external tool you use to modify the game is obviously cheating (and I'd agree that activating the developer console falls in this camp of externally modifying the game). But without hacks, whatever the game lets you do is fair, and if it makes the game not fun, the onus is on the developers to fix it. The most important part for me is that you should be able to freely explore the limitations of the game uninhibited, not worrying about whether you will find something 'too good', not worrying about whether you will be banned for being curious and clever. This constant 'cheating' mentality breeds bad gamers, and stops people from learning the true depth of the game.

I'll go ahead and be the second person to mention sirlin.net . Read "Playing to Win" (a rebuttal of the main focus of this article) and "World of Warcraft Teaches the Wrong Things" (explaining why TF2's unlocking is so fundamentally broken).

This reminds me of a discussion I had on another forum WRT Microsoft (temporarily) banning people using glitches in Modern Warfare 2 on the 360.

The closest thing I could name as a consensus from the supporters was, "The developer said it's not working as intended, it ruins the game, therefore the ban is justified."

Except I couldn't get a clear consensus on how this glitch is different from, say, the akimbo shotguns (unrealistic range and power made the game un-fun, it was against the developer's intent as they did "fix" it), Halo 2's B-X-R, Left 4 Dead's garage door, or any other glitch that doesn't result in a ban.

The real kicker was when I read a post about one of the Super Street Fighter 2 games, where the lead developer has said the character Akuma does not function as intended and is broken in his current state. Wouldn't that, by definition, say merely using the Akuma character is "exploiting a glitch"? Does that make it cheating? (It was banned from Evo Tournament play.)

And "rocket jumping" for some reason isn't considered "glitching" or "cheating", because even though it might not have been originally part of the game (whatever the first game it appeared in -- Quake? Unreal?), it's been around so long that, now, it is considered "just part of the game". Even though I've never learned to do it effectively. For me, it's still something that just can't be done. So if someone rocket-jumps away from me in a game and I can't get to them, it's because they've done something I can't in the game. Cheat? Glitch?

If Infinity Ward never fixed the "Javelin Glitch", how long would it have had to be in the game before it was no longer considered a "cheat/glitch" and "just part of the game"?

Hello, I'm Michael "Kayin" O'Reilly, creator of I Wanna Be the Guy, and I am here to disagree!

Actually to be fair I think the article was actually okay and pretty non-bias. Some of the examples were pretty weak (Sequence breaking in L4D2 and boomers using the kill command are the only things that even really seemed possibly unfair). Still, I got a few things to say.

I was an idler for TF2. Grinding was too much work, and I don't find fun in receiving 'alternative options' the more I play. I want my options right away. I'll decide when I'm ready for them. Now, if I was playing MW2 or something I'd understand. The game packaged as a multiplayer games where you level up and get new unlocks. TF2 on the other hand started as one thing and became something else. Suddenly there were unlocks, and grinding and all sorts of BS. I liked the new content but could not understand why it was not available to everyone from the get go. So when idling became possible, I idled. Then I ran the idler program to save power and CPU cycles.

When my items were removed, I was pissed. Not so much because I was 'caught' for 'cheating'. They definitely had a case that it was cheating. So when I wrote an angry letter to Robin Walker, I did not complain that I was unfairly treated for cheating, I complained that they, and their amateurish unlock system drove me to cheat. The system was bad and myself, and many others cheated to avoid that undesirable part of the game. This should have been seen as a failure on their parts as game designers (I love Valve, but they seem prone to REALLY REALLY DUMB design decisions sometimes, like this or dynamic weapon pricing.)

What made matters worse is you could still use idle servers. The only difference between 'cheating' and 'not cheating' was cpu and memory usage.

Now I just grind for achievements though, because now the achievements are designed to be easily doable. They actually devalued achievements (not that I care at all, I think achievements are retarded, but I know some people love them) to support the unlock system. It's all bad and valve should feel bad. And they did, so they made the most useless crafting system ever which only encouraged people to idle more to make hats. GREAT.

Anyways, the other thing I wanted to say..... Developer Intent is bubkis.

As a developer, when you release a game, THATS IT. Thats what the player has to play. Unless you patch it, its over. Trying to figure out what the developer was intending is stupid for a number of reasons. There are probably a number of obviously fair tactics the developers didn't intend or think about. Players won't and shouldn't play in some sterile 'what would jesus-imeandeveloper do?' way. They figure out and exploit the nuances.

Games that are interesting are not interesting because the designers perfectly plotted every little detail of the game. That is umpossiblz. Instead, they make games interesting by creating environments where interesting nuances and details will emerge. Whether or not something is a glitch doesn't exactly matter. Glitches and exploits have often been legitimized in games by the developers, and obviously intended tactics have been removed because the developer went "My god, what was I thinking!"

Straz:
I feeled compelled to mention the care package glitch in MW2.
People who used it used to tell me that it was in the game, and thus a legitimate stragegy.
It got removed, and if the developers didn't see it as such, it mustn't have been as such.
Yet they still beleived in it, until it was removed.

Well yeah, but are you saying that just because the developers removed it, that it wasn't legit? Legit stuff gets removed all the time from games by developers. Developers are not infallible. They jump at things that are harmless and miss things that are horrible and they do so because they are humans with bias perceptions like the right of us.

So while that glitch was in the game it was fair to people to say it was legit. But once the developer removes it, thats it. It doesn't matter if it was legit or not, you aren't able to do it so theres no more discussion. Developers may be fallible, but the game code is the final ruling on everything and if they change that, what can ya do?

Frederf:
95% of the time anything that even raises the question "Is this legitimate?" guarantees the answer "No." Human beings have a persistent habit of desperately trying to justify their behavior.

Quite the opposite in my experience. Unless it involves an external program, 95% of the time if people ask if it's legitimate, my answer is pretty much always 'yes, yes it is.' This isn't hard, since people gripe about EVERYTHING, and rarely on anything that is a significant problem. Maybe I'm a little bias here because I tend to play polished games. People who play MW2 online might have a different perspective. But REALLY? 95% no? Are you like.... a gaming Nun?

Anyways (and this is a little bit lateral to the discussion since this is single player) I'd like to say as someone who released a buggy game, as a developer, I LOVED seeing what people did with IWBTG. They'd find super obscure bugs and exploits that would make me just drop my jaw in amazement. Very few of these 'interesting' glitches got patched. I tired to remove stuff that made you invulnerable or made you teleport (though if you check youtube, I've clearly failed at that :P), but tons of other little exploits that were beneficial to the player were legitimized by me often as features. Things like that are part of the 'lore' of a video game. Part of the texture of a game that people can talk about, find, and explore. Certain bugs, glitches and exploits very much add to the character of games, often beneficially.

Anyways, for me (lol sirlin.net again), the line is whats in the game. If the game is so broken with exploits that I can't have fun while playing my best, I don't blame the community, I blame the developers. Fuzzy rules just lead to people being mad and each other and fracturing communities.

I do think developers should be more willing to speak out. I would have appreciated it if Valve came by sooner to say "No, idling is dumb, knock it off", and then set to fix the problem. Communications can act as a stopgap solution before a REAL solution is implemented, but at the same time, depending on the exploit, that doesn't mean some people can't continue to safely perform it.

physicsnick:

For the CoD4 clan player above, the reason you were getting beaten by these other clans is because they were better than you. You were hamstrung by your own self-imposed artificial rules that the game simply does not care about, and that's why you lost. A team with your mentality would never survive in any kind of tournament play. Video game tournaments do not have 'judges' who try to figure out whether you won 'honourably and ethically'. Only the score matters.

So no, it is not a thin red line at all. There is no line; in my opinion there should be no such thing as an exploit. There are hacks of course; any external tool you use to modify the game is obviously cheating (and I'd agree that activating the developer console falls in this camp of externally modifying the game). But without hacks, whatever the game lets you do is fair, and if it makes the game not fun, the onus is on the developers to fix it. The most important part for me is that you should be able to freely explore the limitations of the game uninhibited, not worrying about whether you will find something 'too good', not worrying about whether you will be banned for being curious and clever. This constant 'cheating' mentality breeds bad gamers, and stops people from learning the true depth of the game.

Yeah, well, not everyone who plays MW wants to reach Championship level of skill. And while we are on it, if pro players are indeed playing as you reply they are, then the ones that promote fair play will just have to get better. Also, I bet a good percentage of MW players would SUCK at games like Braid and Wipeout HD.

About the line? Yeah, there is one. Proof? MW2 is full of overpowered equipment which I am not gonna get into at this point. I have seen players using glitches, left and right in this game. First it was the pillar in Underpass. Now, it is one of the exits to the underground tunnels in Wasteland. And even if that is fixed, we have the grenade launchers.

katsabas:

Yeah, well, not everyone who plays MW wants to reach Championship level of skill. And while we are on it, if pro players are indeed playing as you reply they are, then the ones that promote fair play will just have to get better.

This is true, but those players aren't going to be playing clan matches. If you're getting into clan matches, it's to create a comparison of skill.

Also, I bet a good percentage of MW players would SUCK at games like Braid and Wipeout HD.

This seems like such an unnecessary and silly jab that doesn't seem to have a purpose in this discussion and probably isn't even true if you're talking about competitive players. Damn dirty cheating exploiters are the people most apt to figure out puzzles and the likes. I don't even know what the hell you're getting at.

About the line? Yeah, there is one. Proof? MW2 is full of overpowered equipment which I am not gonna get into at this point. I have seen players using glitches, left and right in this game. First it was the pillar in Underpass. Now, it is one of the exits to the underground tunnels in Wasteland. And even if that is fixed, we have the grenade launchers.

Thats not proof at all! In fact, thats like the OPPOSITE of truth. All that shit is going on -- where is the line? No one knows! Where do you draw it? Even if you draw it at glitches the game is STILL broken. Is the line before LEGITIMATE AND INTENDED TACTICS? My god, that'd be terrible! There is no line. The only thing to learn here is MW2 is really really stupid.

KayinN:

This seems like such an unnecessary and silly jab that doesn't seem to have a purpose in this discussion and probably isn't even true if you're talking about competitive players. Damn dirty cheating exploiters are the people most apt to figure out puzzles and the likes. I don't even know what the hell you're getting at.

I am getting to the fact that due to the sheer number of shooters out there today, it is natural for someone to be adept to them. Try beating Zico in Wipeout HD or getting past Zone 75. Or even finish Braid. Those are games that require an amount of clairvoyance, detail and skill. Shooters teach you 3 things: shoot, kill, teabag.

KayinN:
Thats not proof at all! In fact, thats like the OPPOSITE of truth. All that shit is going on -- where is the line? No one knows! Where do you draw it? Even if you draw it at glitches the game is STILL broken. Is the line before LEGITIMATE AND INTENDED TACTICS? My god, that'd be terrible! There is no line. The only thing to learn here is MW2 is really really stupid.

How, exactly, is not proof? Have you seen any youtube videos about what I am actually referring to? There are quite a few of em. There is a difference between someone with a Care Package, Chopper Gunner, Nuke and someone with a UAV, Predator, Harrier Strike. If you cannot see the line, then hey, that's who you are. No matter.

What a load of nonsense. Competitive FPS gameplay requires a vast amount of skills. Incredible amounts of situational awareness is required, as well. Subtle details compound the advantages and disadvantages of a situation... and lets forget how open ended aiming is as a skill. Comparing this to Braid? What? Reaaally? Braid was easy. It was a smart, clever, good game, but to say it, like it's some big, serious challenge is hilarious. Even if it was, thats not important, just as I won't deny the depth of Wipeout. What is more important is you clearly have not managed to grasp the depth that is possible in FPSs. Instead you just boil it down to three silly concepts.

And yes, that is still not proof. It's proof because some things are better than other things? So what! So you might say "Lets get rid of all this stuff that is too good", but you know what a lot of people say? The stuff that is too good IS the game. That is the fun bits, especially since these are part of the game.

The only proof I see is that MW2 is a terrible multiplayer game on any sort of serious level. Maybe you should apply some of that clairvoyance to understanding real game design matters, rather being comfortable in ignorance. YOU see a 'line' and stop there. That is your limitation not mine. I see the line, but then I see the truth BEYOND the line in games I play. Watching people hit this wall is almost cute to me at this point.

KayinN:
Hello, I'm Michael "Kayin" O'Reilly, creator of I Wanna Be the Guy, and I am here to disagree!

Actually to be fair I think the article was actually okay and pretty non-bias. Some of the examples were pretty weak (Sequence breaking in L4D2 and boomers using the kill command are the only things that even really seemed possibly unfair). Still, I got a few things to say.

I was an idler for TF2. Grinding was too much work, and I don't find fun in receiving 'alternative options' the more I play. I want my options right away. I'll decide when I'm ready for them. Now, if I was playing MW2 or something I'd understand. The game packaged as a multiplayer games where you level up and get new unlocks. TF2 on the other hand started as one thing and became something else. Suddenly there were unlocks, and grinding and all sorts of BS. I liked the new content but could not understand why it was not available to everyone from the get go. So when idling became possible, I idled. Then I ran the idler program to save power and CPU cycles.

When my items were removed, I was pissed. Not so much because I was 'caught' for 'cheating'. They definitely had a case that it was cheating. So when I wrote an angry letter to Robin Walker, I did not complain that I was unfairly treated for cheating, I complained that they, and their amateurish unlock system drove me to cheat. The system was bad and myself, and many others cheated to avoid that undesirable part of the game. This should have been seen as a failure on their parts as game designers (I love Valve, but they seem prone to REALLY REALLY DUMB design decisions sometimes, like this or dynamic weapon pricing.)

What made matters worse is you could still use idle servers. The only difference between 'cheating' and 'not cheating' was cpu and memory usage.

Now I just grind for achievements though, because now the achievements are designed to be easily doable. They actually devalued achievements (not that I care at all, I think achievements are retarded, but I know some people love them) to support the unlock system. It's all bad and valve should feel bad. And they did, so they made the most useless crafting system ever which only encouraged people to idle more to make hats. GREAT.

Anyways, the other thing I wanted to say..... Developer Intent is bubkis.

As a developer, when you release a game, THATS IT. Thats what the player has to play. Unless you patch it, its over. Trying to figure out what the developer was intending is stupid for a number of reasons. There are probably a number of obviously fair tactics the developers didn't intend or think about. Players won't and shouldn't play in some sterile 'what would jesus-imeandeveloper do?' way. They figure out and exploit the nuances.

Games that are interesting are not interesting because the designers perfectly plotted every little detail of the game. That is umpossiblz. Instead, they make games interesting by creating environments where interesting nuances and details will emerge. Whether or not something is a glitch doesn't exactly matter. Glitches and exploits have often been legitimized in games by the developers, and obviously intended tactics have been removed because the developer went "My god, what was I thinking!"

Straz:
I feeled compelled to mention the care package glitch in MW2.
People who used it used to tell me that it was in the game, and thus a legitimate stragegy.
It got removed, and if the developers didn't see it as such, it mustn't have been as such.
Yet they still beleived in it, until it was removed.

Well yeah, but are you saying that just because the developers removed it, that it wasn't legit? Legit stuff gets removed all the time from games by developers. Developers are not infallible. They jump at things that are harmless and miss things that are horrible and they do so because they are humans with bias perceptions like the right of us.

So while that glitch was in the game it was fair to people to say it was legit. But once the developer removes it, thats it. It doesn't matter if it was legit or not, you aren't able to do it so theres no more discussion. Developers may be fallible, but the game code is the final ruling on everything and if they change that, what can ya do?

Frederf:
95% of the time anything that even raises the question "Is this legitimate?" guarantees the answer "No." Human beings have a persistent habit of desperately trying to justify their behavior.

Quite the opposite in my experience. Unless it involves an external program, 95% of the time if people ask if it's legitimate, my answer is pretty much always 'yes, yes it is.' This isn't hard, since people gripe about EVERYTHING, and rarely on anything that is a significant problem. Maybe I'm a little bias here because I tend to play polished games. People who play MW2 online might have a different perspective. But REALLY? 95% no? Are you like.... a gaming Nun?

Anyways (and this is a little bit lateral to the discussion since this is single player) I'd like to say as someone who released a buggy game, as a developer, I LOVED seeing what people did with IWBTG. They'd find super obscure bugs and exploits that would make me just drop my jaw in amazement. Very few of these 'interesting' glitches got patched. I tired to remove stuff that made you invulnerable or made you teleport (though if you check youtube, I've clearly failed at that :P), but tons of other little exploits that were beneficial to the player were legitimized by me often as features. Things like that are part of the 'lore' of a video game. Part of the texture of a game that people can talk about, find, and explore. Certain bugs, glitches and exploits very much add to the character of games, often beneficially.

Anyways, for me (lol sirlin.net again), the line is whats in the game. If the game is so broken with exploits that I can't have fun while playing my best, I don't blame the community, I blame the developers. Fuzzy rules just lead to people being mad and each other and fracturing communities.

I do think developers should be more willing to speak out. I would have appreciated it if Valve came by sooner to say "No, idling is dumb, knock it off", and then set to fix the problem. Communications can act as a stopgap solution before a REAL solution is implemented, but at the same time, depending on the exploit, that doesn't mean some people can't continue to safely perform it.

Well, the care package glitch always shat me, because I sucked at it, and when others used it, my Australian internet connection made it unstoppable for me.
Sorta to a degree,
What is this "I wanna be the guy" that you refer to?
Don't mistake my ignorance for insult, I am genuinely curious as to what it is.
Anywayy... I think the fact that IW removed the Care Package Glitch meant that, from its time of removal, it was no longer legit.
Which is irrelevant because it no longer worked.

I Wanna Be The Guy is an indie PC game about NES gaming thats proven to be surprisingly popular. There was an Escapist article about it (Games that Done me Wrong I believe?).

But yeah I think the important wording here is 'no longer'. Code is the file arbiter of a game. Just because a nerf happens, doesn't mean the former tactic was necessarily illegitimate. An example I can think up off the top of my head is the Spy's Dead Ringer in TF2. Once it was released, it was nerfed into a less useful state and then eventually rebuffed to a state near it's original power. Clearly it wasn't 'wrong' originally, but the designers weren't sure about their own item for awhile.

Another thing is that sometimes even legitimate tactics, while 'fine', would improve the game if they were weakened. This is really up to the developers to implement though. These tactics could even be so modest that the most people don't even consider it a problem.

Balance and fun is a tricky, tricky thing. :(

Dicks will be dicks.

The pathetic ones are the dicks who are ashamed of their dickiness and try to rationalize being dicks.

By that I mean "If you cheat and try to rationalize why it is cool, you are the worst kind of gamer."

Kurt Horsting:
If it weren't for exploits, fighting games wouldn't have combos (canceling special moves, and links where bugs in the programing).

Very true. There is no way that would have been an intuitive expansion on the genre.

KayinN:
I Wanna Be The Guy is an indie PC game about NES gaming thats proven to be surprisingly popular.

You bastard.
...
... I love you. :-D

While I realize taht this article is more about the PC unlocks related to in gaming achievements I feel the urge, nay the obligation to say something. Whenever this topic comes up I have to say one thing and one thing alone.

Online achievements need to burn in hell. As an avid Xbox 360 achievement monger I really feel the urge to point out that these achievements are the worst idea since someone got the bright idea to put nerves in your teeth.

Why game developers feel the urge to impose upon their players like this is totally beyond me. Is your game so crappy you need to force us to go online? Are you really so enthralled with your creation that we need to put in achievements for using each weapon? No, just dammit no. The only thing that's even close to this in frustration are collection based achievements but I'll digress on this point.

As a gamer who does the whole "self-imposed challenge" thing anyways it's always interesting to see a developer put in achievements that force you to do certain things. Use characters you might not normally use, play the game on the hard difficulty or make use of / don't use a particular item. It's a lot of fun to find ways to play a game in a way you might not normally do so. Worst case scenario is that you don't enjoy it and don't get those achievements. No biggie.

But online achievements are just the worst thing ever. Forcing players online to play a particular way to get something is just a bad, freaking, idea. Why would you want to encourage players online to basically play like a jerk so that they can get their stupid 20 GS? You're only going to hurt your other players and damage the damned integrity of the online game itself since boosters will start infesting your game almost immediately.

Honestly if the game is supposed to be so good let it stand on its own merits! Unless the game is 100% online keep these damn things out of it.

/rant

"Because Valve did not comment on achievement servers before, players assumed it was alright to continue the practice with the natural next step of idling. Only later did players learn of the developers' true intentions: In an update last year, Valve stripped players of any unlockable equipment they earned while idling and distributed wearable halos to players who hadn't been caught using idling software.

Well, I think you had the right idea when you wrote this but it gives the wrong message.

Valve didn't punish players who had stayed logged into a server with the actual game client running to idle. What they did is punish players who had used a third-party program that made it appear to Valve's playtime tracking that they were logged in and on a server. Some of my friends were the ones using the program.

TF2 wasn't actually running at all and yet it appeared they were playing, so they got credit for the playtime and received drops.

This obviously crossed a really obvious line into cheating/hacking since they were using external software to circumvent the game's programming entirely. Nobody doing this was under any delusion whatsoever that it wasn't blatant cheating. The policies on using external software in this manner had been really clear for years prior. In years past they may have had their accounts VAC banned and losing their drops would be the last thing they'd be mad about.

Osloq:
For a while I played at a serious level in CoD4 and while my clan maintained a strict policy on modding or exploiting bugs, it was a constant battle when coming into conflict with other clans who had no such inhibitions.

Exactly. If the game has a bug that gives you an advantage, you have to be an idiot not to make use of it. There is no reason why we can't hold developers accountable for bugs in the same way we can hold them accountable for badly designed games or games that crash on the loading screen.

If it is possible to put turrets under the map, then you have a game where one class can put turrets under the map and kill everyone. Would you buy this game if this was intentional? NO! Then why should you play it if this is accidental? The game is the same in both cases.

In Diablo 2, for a long time it was possible to dupe items and trade them to other people, but they would eventually vanish. The result: honest players traded their legit gear for dupes, which then disappeared. From the honest player's point of view, he did nothing wrong and suddenly his gear disappeared. Would you play a game where your items disappear randomly? NO! But when it is caused by someone else cheating, it is okay??

Crunchy English:
I Eventually had to stop playing L4D for awhile due to exploiters. It always happened the same way, my team is up several thousand points and the other team can't possibly win. Instead of playing it out, or conceding, the opposing team would somehow managed to throw their Tank off the roof of mercy hospital. I never did figure out how they did it, but the end result was a tank that never died, could not be shot at and the helicopter never shows up.

Blasting the tank off Mercy? I have done it, you can shoot a propane tank and it will knock the tank back a good 10-20 yards if you hit it just right. That's just in the game... now if they did it without using it, i'd call foul. But since Valve never listens to us when we try and inform them of such events...

I found this opinion interesting in thought, but when paired with the group of MMO's I've undertaken in the past few years, it's hard taking the opinion seriously. On top of just exploiting glitch and bugs within games, games that aren't run well community wise generally succumb to a large hacker backing like Rumble Fighter a game I recently stopped playing for a similar reason. Now, making it clearer to players what is part of the game, and what is clearly an exploit is a good step, but it's so far from getting a real result its laughable. Tell a kid he'll be punished if he commits an act while your at home, and you never catch him. The second he figures out that he can commit that act because you won't know if he's done it or not gives him a rebellious sense and actually pushes him to continue to do it. With communities only with over millions of active players, there are alooot of kids that do the same thing.

Honestly, in an online setting, and this applies to Rumble Fighter, TF2, and any other game that has a similar problem with glitches. LISTEN TO THE GOD DAMN COMMUNITY!

Seriously this seems like such an obvious point, but I've sat through games online that have had an infinite amount of bugs and hacking issues, and they end up staying that way just because the developers stay oblivious to the faults. Part of the community may be the cause of the exploits, but trust and believe there is always a large chunk of the community of an online game, willing to point out as many flaws as it takes to fix again. People who genuinely enjoy the game, will want to play it fairly and enjoy for it what it is. Not have a bunch of people running around, breaking the rules for there own amusement. People like this are more than willing to help Developers find new means to discover faults quicker and solve out the problems in a timely fashion, but the amount of people who actually listen is tiny.

Developers can't do everything, and expecting them to catch everything in an online community is ludicrous. However, utilizing the community to help better the game, would do more for the game itself than anything the developers could do after the games launched. Online worlds are in term created by the players of the game, and the players in the end, will find more about the game than the creators.

I think the line drawn between honourable exploits and dishonourable exploits is measured by the amount of people that use it.
I play alot of GTASA:MP, and there's a rather basic glitch with the sawnoff, where you shoot it once (2 shots fired), then quickly swap to another weapon and back. Refills the ammo, so you can keep doing it to avoid any reloads. Since everyone does it, not many people complain.

It also matters just how much of the level / play experience it cuts out. If you're exploiting part of a level to avoid playing that part of the level, there's an easier way to do that: Dont Play That Level.

Good article, bro. Look foward to any further ones.

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