3 Replies Latest reply on Mar 15, 2014 11:46 PM by xXsylentkillrXx RSS

    Defensive programming and automated ban (kick)

      So, I think it's safe to say that we're all painfully aware of all the hacking/modding/glitching/exploiting aka cheating that has been going on in Ghosts since release.  It's truly ruining the COD experience.  I know I rarely play these days and would love to play a lot more.  But, I'm not a slayer and definitely don't want to go up against cheaters or chance that I get put into an XP lobby and suddenly reach max prestige with a single kill.


      I assume that the game developers are trying to stay on top of this with their anti-cheat tool (whatever that is) and their security team reviewing the many, many, too many player reports for same.


      Not saying that I have a total solution here, but maybe we as a community can help the developers out by providing some ideas of what they could do.  In the end, it could be a win-win situation.  What else can we do because the in-game reporting system in itself gets exploited, even if unintentionally, and it takes too long for the cheaters to be punished and stop their cheating.  The vigilante idea of trolling the cheaters (sounds like fun) and/or everyone leaving a lobby/game when a cheater was spotted so that the cheater has nobody to play with was even discussed on these forums.  And while I agree that if the cheater had nobody to play with they would be forced to give up their cheating ways, we all know that there's a slim to none chance that every non-cheating player would know enough to do the right thing.  So, that puts the ball right back into the game developers court, where rightly it belongs.


      Defensive programming:  any software developer knows what this means...it's called validation and/or error checking.  If added in the "right places", error checking shouldn't cause any noticeable in-game performance impacts.  Let's look at a few cases where this could be effective just as an example of what I'm talking about.  The assault streak hack, where players were obtaining assault streaks as if they were support streaks, meaning the software was not taking into account that the player had been killed before the streak reward was actually earned.  How difficult would it be for the software to validate that a streak award was in fact earned right at the time when the player called it in?  Another example, special DLC guns being used before they are actually released to the public.  How difficult would it be to add a date check (ie. live date obtained from the PSN network, not a player's console) when a DLC released gun is placed into/used from a player's loadout before the gun is actually released?  Prestige glitch:  how difficult would it be for the software to validate some of the player's key stats while COD is entering multi-player mode...to see if the stats are blatantly unobtainable?  These are just a few examples off the top of my head and some would argue that they don't even care about some cheats like the prestige glitch, since it doesn't affect their in-game experience.  But, in the end, it does expose a cheater.  Granted, some of the cheats could be difficult for software to detect, but that doesn't mean nothing can be done at all.  And game release after release, the issues are similar so once the code is in place and works, the developers don't need to continually revisit it, they only need to add new code when new cheats come into existence.


      Automated ban/kick:  there have been numerous discussions/mentions of frustration where cheaters are reported in-game and nothing happens or it takes too long to happen because the developer's security team is overwhelmed with the number of daily reports and time to review the situation.  Then there's the issue of should it be a game ban or console ban and who owns the issue (Sony or the game developer) and then what about those jail broken PS3's?  (Not everyone who cheats jailbreaks their consoles, btw.)  Or, is it a first offense or second offense and what should the penalty be?  So, what if the software, when it detects a "known cheat" during game play,  just kicks the player out of multi-player mode and back to the main menu? If the cheater goes right back to multi-player and tries to cheat again, bam...back to the main menu.  How many times do you think it would take before the cheater figures it out and stops cheating, if they really want to play?  Did you prestige glitch your account...well, I guess you'll never be able to play since you can't reset your stats.  Harsh, I know.  Leave the security reviews to those situations where the software automatically reacted to a cheat but the person was innocent, such as being unwittingly thrown into an XP lobby.


      Maybe some of the people that read this thread with a  better understanding of how some of these cheats work can come up with some good ideas of how the software can detect them.  Someone from Activision monitors these forums, so they should pass the ideas onto the development teams.  It might not end all cheating, but if we can help reduce the overall amount of cheating with little to no effort, it would make for a much better playing experience in the long run.

      Latest reply: on Mar 15, 2014 11:46 PM by Replies: 3 in GHOSTS PLAYSTATION 3
        • Test #1
          Re: Defensive programming and automated ban (kick)

          *I want to preface that I am not a computer tech person and that I could be completely off in my thought process, plus I am paraphrasing.  Please correct me where I am incorrect.


          I wondered why they don't implement something like this.  The problem would be they would have to get rid of the current hybrid dedi/P2P system they have and move to a dedicated server setup only.  Acti/IW would have to host all the games off their dedicated servers (which is where the source code would be maintained).  All of the inputs would be ran through their servers which is where the checks and balances would take place.  If I remember correctly, this is how Blizzard maintains and limits the cheating in WoW.


          Obvious drawback would be the cost of the servers and the cost to maintain them which would prevent the higher-ups from putting 24K gold toilets in all of their bathrooms.

          Last Edited: Mar 14, 2014 10:39 AM
            • Test #1
              Re: Defensive programming and automated ban (kick)

              Thanks for your feedback.  I have some programming knowledge and what I'm suggesting does not require any special servers.  What it does require is that the game developers put "defensive code" into the COD game code to validate and/or error check situations where the game is being exploited by hacks/mods/etc.  I'm also suggesting that the game code perform an automated ban or kick (ie. exit to the main menu) in response to a cheat being detected, so that the cheater is put out of play immediately.  The game could even automatically generate a cheat report and send it to the game developers so that they can further investigate.


              In my original post, I suggested that when a player calls in an assault kill streak award the code checks whether the player actually earned that reward.  There's several ways this can be done.  To give a very simplified example, checking a program counter that tracks the number of kills in a row to ensure that the player actually met the requirement to earn the streak award.  At the start of a match, the counter would be initialized to zero and then for each kill, the counter would be incremented by one.  When the player gets killed, the counter would be reset to zero.  So, when the player calls in the award, the code checks the counter and if the streak requirement is not met then something is not right.  At that point, the code can just exit to the main menu (automated kick), perhaps even displaying a message to the player that cheating is suspected.


              I don't have in-depth technical knowledge about what jailbroken PS3's are actually capable of or how the mods used for cheating/hacking work.  But, Sony and the game developers sure as heck know how they work.  I'd be suprised if the game developers don't actually download the hacks and reverse engineer them so that they can develop the proper solutions.  Remember, not every cheater is running on a jailbroken PS3.  But, perhaps something as simple as the game software validating a file checksum to detect modified software could be used to detect cheating.


              What I'm trying to get at is the developers need to be proactive when games are being developed or in their maintenance cycle to detect and deter the cheating.  And, their testers need to be proactive in testing the games to ensure that cheats are properly detected and dealt with.  It would be as simple as having one programmer whose sole priority is software security that guides the rest of the developers on how to develop bullet proof code.  And, having one tester whose sole priority is to attempting to hack the code to ensure that the code actually detects it and deals with it.  Ok, so maybe they need one developer/tester per platform supported (Playstation, Xbox, PC and Wii).  Whatever, the case may be -- Activision makes enough money off of the games, DLC and micro transactions to support at least this.  And as paying customers, we deserve so much better than what we are getting so far.

              Last Edited: Mar 14, 2014 12:13 PM
            • Test #1
              Re: Defensive programming and automated ban (kick)

              Very informative conversation you have here but I have what might be a very stupid question. If someone who has been banned and honestly doesn't know what they may have done to deserve it, couldn't their account be looked into to find out why and then someone could contact the person with the results? Plus, you mention that someone could be placed into some sort of XP lobby. What the heck is that?

              I was banned and figured it must be because I have two Xbox360s in my home (my sons and mine) that are located in different rooms but both were running COD Ghosts at the same time. I purchased the disc version via pre order at Walmart and then another copy via DLC also at Walmart on Black Friday. On his console I purchased the Season Pack, some of the new guys and camos. On my console I only purchased some new guys and camos but we both did play split screen on BOTH of our consoles on different times depending on where we wanted to play at the time. He did download his content onto my console so he could play with his new favorite gun (the ripper). During the week when he was at his moms he had his console over there but doesn't have Xbox Live access and I was at my home trying to rank my guy up to basically shut him up about how badly I sucked at the game. I played for a very long time over two or three day (22 hours)mostly using the Remington R5 or Badger and got one squad member to level 51. All of my other squad members are at level 1! I also purchased the extra slots through Xbox Live so I could play around with the guns I purchased via Squad Points. Today I attempted to log into COD Ghosts live through a third Xbox account I have on my console which resulted in my console being banned. My confusion is that if I have purchased 4 accounts from Xbox, 2 COD Ghosts games, and other optional items legit with proof via Xbox Live how can I be banned for Hacking/Modding or using stolen software?

              Trust me, in the short amount of time that I have played online with this game I have seen plenty of BS and I usually just leave the game as reporting the players does NOTHING! I finally got assigned with a group of players that were actually playing the way I like which was run and gun instead of just camping and throwing grenades so I really started to like playing then BAM! I am banned? Why?

              Lastly, I am also ranked SR89 on Halo 4 with the last game played on 10/13/2013 14:29. I stopped playing Halo and began looking for other games to play which brought me to Ghosts. I feel now I will just have to move onto Titanfall and chock up Ghosts as a fatal mistake I made. Good job Activision and Infinity Ward.... good job!

              Last Edited: Mar 15, 2014 11:46 PM