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Jan 05 2009 -
Where Will Cheaters Go From Here?
n the past months, we have very intensely been asking ourselves many important questions concerning the general topic of cheating. In this article, we want to show you how we currently approach cheating, what our general view on it is and how we roughly intend to work against it. To start off, we will establish the common framework about cheating, what it is, what it does and what it means for Tibia.

1. Definition

"Cheating is an act of lying, deception, fraud, trickery, imposture, or imposition. Cheating characteristically is employed to create an unfair advantage, usually in one's own interest, and often at the expense of others. Cheating implies the breaking of rules. Cheating is a primordial economic act: getting more for less."

2. Why Do People Cheat?

The Wikipedia definition given above already implies the general motivation to do it, namely to "get more for less", and thus to gain an advantage over others. This applies to almost any form of competition since you can only gain an advantage over someone else if there is a form of comparison between the two. Whenever someone can be "better" than someone else, those who are desperate to be better have a readiness to cheat to achieve this goal. Therefore, the key question for us in order to identify the motivation of most cheaters in Tibia is to find out where in Tibia one player can be better than the other.

2.1 Making Easy What Is Hard

Some players really only cheat to acquire resources more easily than by playing fairly. These are classic farmers, gathering money and items through cheating which they intend to use for their actual game experience. The motivation here ranges from purely economic reasons to boredom when hunting to gather those resources. The cheaters do not care much about the fact that this also has a negative economic side-effect on others.

2.2 Indirect Competition

Generally speaking, it is natural to all creatures to measure their own strength against that of others. Today, we usually do that indirectly. This means that we conduct a competition in which we perform the same task as our opponent under the same circumstances and the contestant who does it better wins. Thus, the winner has proven his superiority over the defeated in that field of competition. This indirect form of competition is generally perceived as the more civilized way to measure each other's strength because it provides a similar outcome as a fight without the hassle of all the injuries.

Tibia provides many possibilities to conduct indirect competition. There are numerous ways to gain a memorable place in the highscores for example. Basic highscores are provided on our own website, but many fansites have created further records of alternative achievements such as most experience points ever gained in one day and many more. Finally, the community of Tibia regularly conduct surveys of who achieved what as the first person on a server. This alone is already reason enough for many players to cheat. The desire to become famous in Tibia corrupts many. The fact that in Tibia every character name is unique, even across servers, makes it more attractive. Once your name is known, no one can take that from you anymore.

2.3 Direct Competition

The direct form of competition is however still very popular today, despite the fact that it is considered to be archaic by opposers. The most prominent examples of direct competition are all forms of martial arts including boxing. In no other form of competition can two people compare their actual strength as directly as in a one-on-one fight. There are, however, also many regulations and rules to such fights to limit the damage the contestants take during the fight.

In Tibia, the direct competition takes place via player-versus-player fighting (PvP). For those playing on a PvP world, this can happen at any time and, with only very few exceptions, in any place. Tibia has only extremely few restrictions concerning PvP, the functionality provided by the skull system. Apart from this, during a fight, pretty much everything you can do is allowed to be done.

As becomes obvious when looking at direct competition, Tibia is not only one game, but in fact 3 variations of one basic gameplay. The variations differ in the possibility and support of direct competition. Non-PvP worlds do not offer this at all. Regular PvP Worlds offer the possibility for direct competition with a provided rule set to limit the damage a single player can do to a community. PvP-enforced worlds offer direct competition with absolutely no restrictions and even with an additional reward for those who are good at it.

An additional enhancement of direct competition is Tibia's death penalty. The risk of dying in PvP does not only involve getting defeated in direct competition, but really means losing skills, level, equipment and money. Everyone who enters such a fight is aware of the possible consequences. This enables stronger characters to demand all sorts of things from smaller characters with the mere threat of a fight. The result is what the Tibian community knows as power abusing. On the one hand, there would be no fear if there was nothing to lose, on the other hand, there would be less thrill for the players during a fight and a lesser feeling of success for the winner if there was no risk taken.

2.4 Summary

So, what does all this tell us about why players cheat in Tibia? It tells us that there are different kinds of cheaters:

    All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy.

    Scott Alexander
  • There are those who just want to play without money problems with their main character. They will usually have a few money maker bots to supply their main character. Some of these players may be very fair when they actually play to enjoy the game, but nevertheless, they do cheat to achieve their goal more easily than truly fair players.

  • He that will cheat at play, will cheat you any way.

    Proverb
  • There are those who simply want to be best in something. They want to occupy highscores and be able to show to others how good they are. They do not mind that their achievements are not actually theirs, all they want is to "claim the fame", and they will go to any length to achieve that.

  • Peace, in international affairs, is a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.

    Ambrose Bierce
  • Then there are those who want to engage in direct competition. Some of these players are simply too lazy to level up a character in order to be able to engage in fights, so they cheat their characters up until they are strong enough. These players however often enjoy the fight itself, they still like to really fight manually and therefore do not cheat during the actual fight.

  • I would prefer even to fail with honour than win by cheating.

    Sophocles
  • The rest of those interested in direct competition is not so much interested in the fight itself but in what they gain from fighting or at least threatening to fight. These are likely to also use cheat tools during fights since they want to win at all costs, no matter whether it is fair or not. They want the cash and the power from it, nothing else.
3. How Do People Cheat?

Let us now take a look at the various forms of cheating. There are lists of known types of cheating in computer games. The most common ones can be devided into 3 classes of relevance for Tibia:

3.1 Types of Cheating that Are not Regarded as Cheating in Tibia.

Some examples of this are forms of stacking (in Tibia this usually refers to the stacking of characters) and something called "ghosting" (players using other characters to scout an area before entering with their main character).

3.2 Types of Cheating that Are not Possible in Tibia.

The most prominent example of this is "disconnecting". The aim here is to avoid a death to be recorded by simply disconnecting (either switching off the modem or just closing the client by force, usually called x-logging). As you all know, nothing of the kind will prevent the character death from being recorded in Tibia.

3.3 Types of Cheating that Happen in Tibia.

These are the ones we are concerned about:

Type of Cheat Correspondence in Tibia
Wallhacks In Tibia, this is better known as floorhacking and refers to players being able to see what is below or above their character on adjacent floors even though they actually should not be able to see this.
Farming The Tibian community calls this cavebotting. As a matter of fact, the Tibian cavebotting fulfils 2 functions, namely that of farming for money or items and that of automated skill training and level advancing.
Aimbots and Triggerbots Most variations of triggerbots and aimbots are called warbots in Tibia.
Sharing Tibians know this form of cheating under the same term, yet it is often named in the same breath as account trading.

Consequently, in Tibian terms, the remaining forms of cheating that we have to deal with are floorhacks, cavebots, warbots and account sharing and trading.

4. What Will We Do Against Cheating?

Cheating is the most controversially discussed topic in the Tibian community and the most persisting problem in online games in general. We have put a great deal of work into identifying the cheaters in the past months. Additionally, we have also spent some time on thinking about the root causes of cheating and the favouring gameplay features. We therefore also intend to work on those issues. Our concept consists of 3 equally important parts:

4.1 Preventive Measures

Many of you already know what this refers to. It means that we want to simply make some cheats impossible or irrelevant. One recent example of a preventive measure was the reduction of the shooting range of runes in the last summer update. This put an end to warbots that were able to shoot at other players outside of their visible screen. We also changed a few areas on the map this winter update in order to make floorhacking in known places impossible. Finally, we made cavebotting in Rookgaard unattractive when we introduced the money limit on the Rookgaard bank account and in the inventory when a character wants to leave the Isle of Destiny. As far as we can see now, this has practically eradicated money farming on Rookgaard.

4.2 Punitive Measures

To defeat the enemy, you have to know the enemy. We have already analysed why people cheat and taken a glance at how they usually do it. However, what we need to do is to find a way to be sure of who actually does it. We understand our enemies better, now all we need is to know exactly who they are. Once we have the means to identify the cheaters with sufficient certainty, we will not hesitate to begin the fight, and rest assured, we are already very close to the first battle cries. Please understand, however, that we will not provide you with details on how we will actually accomplish this since for them, we are the enemy, and of course, a very important tactic to weaken them is to make sure that they do not know how we do things. What we can tell you is how it will look like for you. The examples here are our first actions of the kind after the summer update when we punished in total about 1500 cheaters.

4.3 Communicative Measures

As you have noticed, we have generally worked a lot on our communication with our community. We will also extend this to our actions in respect to cheating because we want everyone to know that we will not turn a blind eye to cheaters. The newsbits about the cheating banishments last summer marked the beginning of these communicative measures that will accompany all our future actions against cheating. This article is another step in this direction. You can be certain that you will not miss our next steps.

5. 6x6=Cheater

This year, we will roll the dice on cheating, and no, we will not leave it in any way to chance. Treating this issue with any less dedication than it deserves would simply be gambling with our game. Therefore, we promise you measures in all 3 categories as mentioned in this article. The measures will not all come at the same time, but we will start very soon with the first steps.

In short, we do not want cheaters in Tibia. We are of the opinion that they directly destroy the economy and have a negative influence on the peaceful gameplay of fair players. Furthermore, they tip the general atmosphere in Tibia more to the bad side. Cheaters have a tendency to be dishonest. Honest players feel that they cannot trust anyone anymore the more cheaters are around them. Finally, the motivation of many cheaters is to oppress other players which ultimately leads to more fair players leaving Tibia and more cheaters coming and even worsening the situation. This also includes those players who are fair in their heart but who feel that their only chance to keep up with the cheaters is to start cheating themselves. In the past year, we have consequently worked on supporting the more cooperative and friendlier playing styles. This is the kind of player we wish to support, also against cheaters.

Let this be the last warning to all cheaters. We do not want you here. The stage is open and we are on:

It's your choice where you go from here.
Go the wrong way and we'll be there!
Or come clean while you still can
and you may avoid getting a ban.
Take your pick
but take it quick...

We wish a good year 2009 to all fair and honest Tibia players out there. To the cheaters, we promise that we will make it an exceptionally bad year.

We are ready, are you?
Your Product Managers

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