05 February, 2012

Co-opting Cheating

written by Blain Newport on Saturday, 4 February, 2012

On a recent co-op night, Chris and I decided we had played enough Minecraft, and it was time to shoot some mans. We tried Battlefield: Bad Company 2. But the cheating in that game is hideous. And it's easy to tell who's cheating. They're the ones who are instantly popping their aim from one target to the next without ever looking around like a normal human. Plus Battlefield keeps historical data, so it's painfully obvious when someone's skill level suddenly jumps through the roof.

It's so easy to tell who's cheating that it appears EA, DICE, and Punk Buster aren't really trying to stop them. This may be because they've simply stopped bothering with Bad Company 2 now that Battlefield 3 is out. You never really buy an EA multiplayer game, anyway. You only rent it until they shut down matchmaking.

But if you can't beat them, why not join them?

If you can't be bothered supporting the game, turn off all the anti-cheat stuff and let people go nuts. The only reason cheating is appealing is because it gives you an unfair advantage. Once the playing field is level, the good players are still going to mop up because they know how to use cover, prioritize threats, and decide which weapons to use in which situation.

The gameplay will certainly devolve, but watching how the game devolves could be informative. Why ever carry an SMG if a sniper rifle can get you one hit kills at any range? What classes aren't useful anymore when the rules change?

In fact, I'd love to see a game designed like this from the ground up. Build something that's all cheating all the time and see what that experience teaches.

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