This articles concerns cheating on the popular Westwood Online (WOL) game servers. While we all were en route to the 1.004 Patch, we were promised fixes for most trainers and cheating tactics on WOL. Well, partially, this was achieved: The trainers that worked with Patch 1.003 didn't do the same things in Patch 1.004. I myself obtained a money hack trainer to see if it worked. With great joy I realized it didn't work, when suddenly a reconnection error popped up. It was obvious that the cheaters now had another way to rule WOL: the trainers that don't work for their purpose - e.g. obtaining credits, were now working in terms of giving opponents a reconnection error! If you watch the Top 10 clans on the WOL Ladder, you'll certainly see some with a yellow face (symbolising more than 15 disconnects), and maybe even some with a red face (over 25 disconnects!). Fortunately, Westwood has decided if someone who loses disconnects, the winner should, in theory, get the points. However, the reconnection errors make the game a wash (off-record) instantly. Westwood has promised absolutely no reconnection errors in patch 1.005, as well as many other fixes for users with firewalls. We have spoken to Maniac, webmaster of fellow fansite RAX, as well as the Westwood Online Community Manager, Chris 'Delphi' Rubyor.
StrikerPro: 1) How well do you believe cheating is fought right now, and what do you think can be done in the future?
Maniac: Well Westwood is taking some pretty strict anti-cheating measures in 1.05. But ultimately those measures could end up doing as much harm as good. In a disconnect game both the players get a loss. This means someone could disconnect on purpose just so the enemy also gets the loss. "Im going down so i`ll take you down with me". Westwood also recently made a webpage where u can report cheaters. Should make the job of reporting cheaters much easier but im sure we will have people sending in false reports to harm someone.
Other then that the community people are doing excellent work on deterring cheating. We see Olaf making the Cheat Reporter, which is an excellent utility. Keep up the good work man. Then there are sites like CnC Games 2001 that have a good list of cheaters that we should all avoid like plague. Other then that we got sysops like ShockOps doing all they can to report cheaters/lamers.
Cheating will never be stopped completely. But we all can do what little we can to reduce it as much as possible.
StrikerPro: 2) Do you believe there ARE actually ways of fighting back against cheaters? Some well designed ways like Olaf's XCC Cheat Reporter are not recognized as official by Westwood, and reporting cheaters always returns a reply like 'you dont have enough data to convince us'. What would you propose?
Maniac: Well the fact remains that anyone can go and say that person x cheats. For example someone could go and say i cheat even though i dont just so that he could get even me with me. Maybe i beat him in a game and he didnt like that fact. Or maybe he was just too pissed..because people tend not to think too much when they are pissed. Due to this fact reporting cheaters will never be taken with 100% seriousness unless Westwood has hard and fast facts about the said cheater. I believe Westwood needs to build some form of advanced cheat detector inside its games. Something that could for example detect who's washing a game , disconnecting a game or even running a cheat program in the background(like a map revealer).
Other then that maybe measures could be taken to make sure cheaters don't prosper too much. For example changing the style of ladder play somehow to make cheating minimal. Chris Rubyor has mentioned at times that soon ra2 ladder will be entirely based on quick match (perhaps in the expansion ?). If so then at least we wont see one map wonders or modified maps. Also i think 1.05 patch will not let people play mod maps in ladder so that's a plus. However most cheaters use Map Revealers (surprisingly common in WOL) and/or disconnect/wash games. I don't think there is anyway to completely stop them except having some form of detecting who is using a map revealer or washing games.
StrikerPro: 3) Do you think Westwood is taking generally good measures to improve gaming experience? Got anything to propose to them to help us play hell better? Also, what do you think about the other forms of cheating like recon errors etc? Are they likely to vanish?
Maniac: Well generally I'm satisfied with Westwood. While we all think they dont do crap I'm sure they do everything they can to make the gamers happy. A happy gamer = a return customer and Westwood realizes that :) So believe me, I'm sure they just dont sit around and hear us complain. I also talk to some of them once in a while and they are always aware of the problems and trying to work them out.
The one thing i really would need is better WOL interface. Westwood 'newbified' it a lot in RA2. Which may be good for newbies to WOL, but for us experienced gamers it makes it extremely hard to find a good ranked game online. I also believe the ladder servers should be better so that games are reported on time :)
As for recon cheaters who knows. I hope Westwood annihilates them somehow. Time will tell I guess.
StrikerPro: Thank you Maniac.
Now moving onto the interview with Chris Rubyor:
StrikerPro: What is your opinion about the new measures Westwood Takes against cheaters?
Delphi: I think it's a great start! It shows that we have to be more firm with those who don't like to play by the rules.
StrikerPro: What do you think about the non-Westwood measures taken against cheating (Olaf's Cheat Reporter). What can people do if facing cheaters?
Delphi: Olaf has done a great job with the cheaters report system and should be commended. I think a majority of the community should adopt it.
Report it! Simple take a screen shot and send it in with the details of the incident to firstname.lastname@example.org and fill out Olaf's cheater report to make sure that it won't go unnoticed. Remember if you are going to accuse a player of cheating be sure to have facts to back up the claim. Telling us that he had a lot of units in the beginning is not very valid since most experienced players can do this.
StrikerPro: Do you think there IS an effective way to fight back against the cheaters? I ve heard Westwood doesn't reply to relevant emails. What do you have to say about it?
Delphi: Well, personally people scream about cheaters all the time, even when they aren't being cheated. It's the "better player syndrome" where new players are absolutely amazed and mad that someone had 8 rhino tanks 5 terror drones in the first 5 minutes. In the newer players minds their opponent must have been using a cheat.
So let me get this into the open, we have yet to find a trainer that gives money or fast construction on WOL that doesn't cause the game to go out of sync. Now there is the problem of wash games caused by trainers, but we have worked that problem out of our system. In the next patch, anyone that tries to wash a game will give a loss to both players.
Disconnecting will also be addressed. Players will now have 20 secs to reconnect to the game, if the player continues to pull the plug, the 5th try will result in a loss for the disconnecting player
So there you have it, opinions from some of the most important people in the community. There is certainly a lot of work yet to be done if the cheats that plague WOL are ever to be conquered.