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Topic Starter Topic: Proposal: A tiered server system for fighting aimbots

Veteran
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PostPosted: 07-16-2012 02:22 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Aimbots pose a real problem for multiplayer FPS games like Quake and Counter Strike. The first aimbots were rather crude, their use could be detected and the players using it banned. Unfortunately, aimbots have become much more sophisticated. Some of the best ones are hardly distinguishable from very good professional players based on their aiming behavior.

Anti-cheat techniques (e.g. Punkbuster) are not very effective against aimbots because of a steady stream of new aimbots released. Dynamic Bayesian Networks (DBN) have been shown to detect aimbots with high efficiency (> 95 %). However, because DBNs rely on statistical comparison of the behavior of normal and cheating players, their effectiveness diminishes as aimbots mimic human behavior better and better. At some point aimbots will become practically indistinguishable from real players. When this happens there will be no way to tell whether a player is using an aimbot or not.

The main problem with aimbots is that they destroy the game of honest people. There are many examples of players abandoning servers because of aimbotters dominating the matches. Why do the players really abandon these servers? The simple answer is that they have no chance at all agains aimbotters who will own the server. To turn this logic around: Why would anyone care about aimbotters playing on a server if they did not automatically have a huge unfair advantage?

IMO the solution is a scheme that have been universally adopted in sports: a tiered competition system. Sportsmen are categorized according to their previously demonstrated skills and they are not allowed to compete in leagues below their class (except in open tournaments in which anybody can participate).

Similarly, we should have a tiered server system where each server would be assigned a maximum aiming skill level allowed. Aiming precision can be easily monitored and quantified. Anybody with an aiming skill over the server's assigned level would be automatically kicked out. This could happen in less than a minute of playing.

If this scheme is implemented then the matches will become fair. It will not matter if a player uses an aimbot provided it is less efficient than the server's skill limit. Simply using an aimbot does not make someone a great player. Aimbotters are usually lame (the main reason why they use aimbots to begin with). They can be consistently beaten using superior skills in navigation, tactics and strategic planning.

Obviously, you could play on servers of higher skill settings to have some practice for improving you skill. But it would be _your_ choice, and for fun play you could always chose a server at your own level and could be fairly sure that it is only your skills that ultimately determine the outcome.

The above is only a rudimentary sketch. There are of course many factors to consider: how many tiers should be there, what skill levels to set for the different tiers, etc. But first I would like to have your opinion about the whole thing. Would it work? Would it be accepted by players and used by server administrators? Also any ideas about how to improve the scheme are welcome. Criticism is also OK provided it is constructive. Please, don't just tell me that it is stupid idea: tell me also why. :)

Thanks!




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Elite
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PostPosted: 07-16-2012 03:20 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


The trouble with basing it on accuracy of aim is that some players are rubbish at dodging or taking evasive maneouvers, so they are easier to hit. Hence the accuracy of aim against such a player would be higher, making the stats unreliable.




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Cool #9
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PostPosted: 07-16-2012 03:21 AM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


What if pro-player johnny wants to enjoy a match with his best buddy, newbie Timmy, then they would never be able to play together.

Also, it sounds like this would keep the noobs out of harms way, but not the really skilled pro players. Also, eventually you'll end up spreading the high end players thin across multiple tiers. Some people are really, really good at videogames and would end up in high tiers. But there aren't many of them, so the only people they play against is the same group of other high skilled players (which may not be that many) and aim bots. You'll deprive good players of other people to play against.

This scheme would only be possible if aimbotters would prove to be so incredibly good at the game, that they'll end up in the ultimate top-tier where no one but aimbotters reside. But I have my doubts that this will be a 100% fool proof filter. You'll always have really good players being up there together with aimbots, and you don't want to scare away those really good players from playing on your server.

And to hook in on that, if you're really good and you end up in one of the higher tiers of playing, that'll only fuel the speculation of you being an aimbot. It's not something you'd want.




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I'm the dude!
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PostPosted: 07-16-2012 04:54 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


I'm no expert on now aimbots work, but don't a lot of aimbots do wall hacks where they actually aim at a target even on the other side of a wall beyond the line of sight? Even the most accurate real players can't do that, so this may distinguish between real players and aimbots apart from pure accuracy statistics.



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Cool #9
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PostPosted: 07-16-2012 05:29 AM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Yeah but he's got the wallhack covered pretty well already.




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Veteran
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PostPosted: 07-16-2012 07:00 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Hi guys,

Thanks for the feedback!

Quote:
The trouble with basing it on accuracy of aim is that some players are rubbish at dodging or taking evasive maneouvers, so they are easier to hit. Hence the accuracy of aim against such a player would be higher, making the stats unreliable.


Good point. However, aimbots are different not only by giving higher accuracy, but in the way their aiming is done. DBNs can reliably recognize aimbot behavior as long as it is not a perfect imitation of normal players' aiming behavior. Also we can kind of average over several players, and/or check if the other player did in fact tried to evade the shot. Rather complicated, but nobody said it would be an easy job... :)

@Eraser:

Let me summarize the main points of the tiered system. I hope this will answer your specific concerns.

1. The most important point (and the main aim) of the system is the following. It is for admins who want to provide servers on which beginners and medium-level players (the vast majority) can play fun games w/o the interference of aimbotters. Or professionals at that. IMHO a pro who connects w/o invitation to a public server clearly populated with casual players and slaughters them is not much better than an aimbotter (as far as the result is concerned). He/she just destroys the other players' game.

1. Obviously, nobody can force an admin to use the system (I am sure many will not). So players of all levels will always be able find a non-tiered server to play together.

3. Playing even against pros on a higher level tiered server will always be possible for lower level players (I would not do it myself, it's mostly humiliating).

4. We can add an 'invitation' system by which players on a lower level server can vote to invite higher level players they know (this is different from the situation when unknown jerks with aimbots connect).

5. We can automatically allow players from the next tier above to play, provided that they accept a suitable handicap penalty.

Actually, the whole scheme is very similar to the category/league system in sports, where it works fine to everybody's satisfaction.




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menkent
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PostPosted: 07-16-2012 07:57 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


i've had games where things just went right and i shot 12/12 rail or some moron goes aggro or pops up a bounce in front of me a couple times and suddenly my LG is at 60%. so the server kicks me for having an unusually good game on a server that reflects my typical mediocrity?
sounds derp to me.




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Veteran
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PostPosted: 07-16-2012 08:57 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


menkent wrote:
i've had games where things just went right and i shot 12/12 rail or some moron goes aggro or pops up a bounce in front of me a couple times and suddenly my LG is at 60%. so the server kicks me for having an unusually good game on a server that reflects my typical mediocrity?
sounds derp to me.


A valid point. But how many times has it happened to you? One game out of 100? Out of 50?

Anyway, perfect accuracy with a _single_ weapon would never be sufficient reason to kick you out. We know that there are railgun devils who just cannot miss. :) OTOH, if on the average you consistently score with all weapons significantly better than the server's skill limit, then you either use an aimbot or you are too strong for the other players and should seek other opponents (unless you are explicitly invited). You may enjoy the massacre but they certainly don't.




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menkent
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PostPosted: 07-16-2012 12:06 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


ok. sounds like you've come up with a remarkably complicated and implausible solution to a problem that i've never encountered outside a newb FFA or CA server. easier solution:
/callvote kick aimbotter
F1
F1
F1
F1




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Veteran
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PostPosted: 07-16-2012 12:35 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


menkent wrote:
ok. sounds like you've come up with a remarkably complicated and implausible solution to a problem that i've never encountered outside a newb FFA or CA server. easier solution:
/callvote kick aimbotter
F1
F1
F1
F1


Can you tell for sure when somebody uses an aimbot (a really sophisticated one)? If yes, please, let me know how, I could use the info. :sly:

Aimbots may not be a problem for you, but there are other people who think otherwise. Making anticheat stuff was not my idea (I don't play on public servers, there are far too many idiots on them). I have been approached by Noghost and Wolfenstein:ET admins who asked if I could do it (because their servers are plagued by cheaters).




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menkent
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PostPosted: 07-16-2012 12:59 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


if it's sophisticated enough that you can't tell as a spectator then the accuracy stats aren't going to do it either... especially if the user is smart enough to enable it only when they need to (first encounter to gain map/item control; low on health; opponent has a power-up). also, QL already has a ranking system so you should be able to tell before you join how you stack up against the people already there. that doesn't mean some jerk looking to pad his stats won't pop on and rape a few people, but the punishment for that is built into the system - winning easy matches just artificially inflates your ranking and makes others less likely to play against you.

as for Noghost or Wolf:ET, I don't play those and you might not get much help posting about them in the Q3/QL forum of a Q3 board.

anyway, callvotes solve both bots and tiers. anyone who is making the game less fun for the majority of people on the server can get kicked. it doesn't matter if they're cheating, on a server too far below them, or just being a troll. they get kicked and go find somewhere more appropriate to play.




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Mentor
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PostPosted: 07-16-2012 05:36 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


More or less my thoughts. It's a solution looking for a problem.




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I'm the dude!
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PostPosted: 07-16-2012 06:14 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


It could be useful to flag players as possible aimbotters for admins to keep an eye on. Instead of kicking them, how about the server records a demo recording along with a report on aimbot probability for the offender, so admins can use it as evidence to decide whether a ban is required. That way you have an automated system that flags possible offenders but still have human intervention to make the absolute decision for kicks/bans.



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Cool #9
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PostPosted: 07-16-2012 10:49 PM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


speaker wrote:
So players of all levels will always be able find a non-tiered server to play together.


So basically the solution to one of the problems is to not play on servers running your mod?

speaker wrote:
Actually, the whole scheme is very similar to the category/league system in sports, where it works fine to everybody's satisfaction.


Yeah, but those tiers are there to differentiate between skill level, not between cheaters/non-cheaters.
The way Quake Live's tiers work is pretty decent as far as I'm concerned. Anyone can play anywhere but you do get an indication of how the average level of players on the server stacks up against your own skill. The idea that this would be appropriate to weed out cheaters is silly IMO.




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Veteran
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PostPosted: 07-17-2012 12:07 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote



HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO POINT OUT THAT THE AIM OF THE TIERED SYSTEM IS NOT DETECTING THE CHEATERS, BUT RESTRICTING THEM TO A PRESET SKILL LEVEL SO THAT OTHER PLAYERS ALSO HAVE A CHANCE OF WINNING?


Sorry about shouting, but it really irritates me how you all seem to miss this essential point. As I already said, sophisticated aimbots are next to impossible to detect, either by spectators or by automated systems. So the proposed vote/kick system is just bullshit.

Let me give you an example from sports. Suppose you are participating in a table tennis tournament for amateurs. You are also an amateur, you want to have some fun matches and hopefully win. Then a player from the National First League appears (light years above your skill) and signs up. Or some player starts to play with a paddle (a type forbidden by the International TT Federation) that gives him/her a huge advantage over players with allowed paddles. Would you not be pissed off?

Well, in the above example you would not have a cause to be pissed off because the tournament organizers would never allow a first league player to take part in an amateur tournament, and players using forbidden paddles would be asked to change their paddles or go away.

I hope the analogy is clear enough for you to understand why and what I want to do.

@menkent:
Still waiting for you to tell me how to identify really good aimbots that imitate the aiming behavior of human players. BTW, Noghost is modified Q3A, Wolfenstein is also based on Q3. So it is relevant what I can learn here (at least that's what I thought when I posted the topic).




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Cool #9
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PostPosted: 07-17-2012 12:54 AM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


But these "illegal paddles" are undetectable, so we can't just ask them to go away.
Where I believe the tiered system will fail is that you're differentiating on skill level, not on whether someone is cheating or not.
You think you work on the basis of:

Cheater -> High skill -> move to separate high skill area.

However, what you're really doing is:

High Skill -> Cheater -> move to separate high skill area.

What you're doing is detecting the high skill and then put a "cheater" label on them. So eventually you'll end up with a tier of cheaters and highly skilled players. Since the high skill players are not interested in these games, they'll leave. Same might be true for the cheaters. What you're left with is servers filled with nothing but noobs and average players. Is that really what you want? At the cost of pissing off the elite players? I doubt you do.

Maybe I'm wrong and there's a way for you to see the difference between a cheater and a high skill player, but then what's the point of the tiered system?

Also, I haven't even covered the possibility of players just playing the game normally, but only activating their aimbot at very specific instances, just to give them the edge over their opponent. Maybe they'd win a lot of matches, but perhaps 50% of their shots (maybe even more) are done by aiming manually. Then they'll stay floating around in the same tier.




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Veteran
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PostPosted: 07-17-2012 04:02 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


@Eraser:
Thanks for the analysis. You mention a couple of valid issues that must be addressed.

Quote:
But these "illegal paddles" are undetectable, so we can't just ask them to go away.
Where I believe the tiered system will fail is that you're differentiating on skill level, not on whether someone is cheating or not.
You think you work on the basis of:

Cheater -> High skill -> move to separate high skill area.

However, what you're really doing is:

High Skill -> Cheater -> move to separate high skill area.

What you're doing is detecting the high skill and then put a "cheater" label on them.


What I really want to do is the following:

High skill -> too strong for players on this server -> move to a higher level.

The admit/deny decision would be based on aiming skill level alone, regardless whether it is because of the use of an aimbot or because of outstanding skills. So if you are kicked out of a tiered server it does not mark you as a cheater, only as someone who is too strong for the server and should find other opponents (or stop using the aimbot :)).

Quote:
So eventually you'll end up with a tier of cheaters and highly skilled players. Since the high skill players are not interested in these games, they'll leave. Same might be true for the cheaters.


You assume that all servers would be tiered and professionals would not be allowed to play anywhere but at the top tier. If this was true, then your conclusion would be valid. In practice only a minority of the servers will use the tier system, so there will be plenty of open servers where all kind of players can frag each other ad infinitum. Also on a tiered server there would be at most three tiers (one for beginners, one for medium level players and a third for everybody else).

Quote:
What you're left with is servers filled with nothing but noobs and average players. Is that really what you want? At the cost of pissing off the elite players? I doubt you do.


Strange enough, but that's exactly what I want: to provide a fair playing ground for people where they can have a fun game against players of comparable strenght w/o interference from aimbotters (or professionals). I don't think that elite players would be pissed off just because they are not allowed to connect to a few servers populated by lower level players. Do they really want so much to compete against beginners or mid-level amateur players? I doubt it.

Quote:
Also, I haven't even covered the possibility of players just playing the game normally, but only activating their aimbot at very specific instances, just to give them the edge over their opponent. Maybe they'd win a lot of matches, but perhaps 50% of their shots (maybe even more) are done by aiming manually. Then they'll stay floating around in the same tier.


This is a real problem indeed, and right now I cannot propose a satisfactory solution. I will think about it. It might be possible to use some statistical analysis (e.g. it could be indicative if with the same weapon at some point a player shoots like an ubergod, at some other time, as a lamer).




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Cool #9
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PostPosted: 07-17-2012 04:35 AM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


speaker wrote:
You assume that all servers would be tiered and professionals would not be allowed to play anywhere but at the top tier. If this was true, then your conclusion would be valid. In practice only a minority of the servers will use the tier system, so there will be plenty of open servers where all kind of players can frag each other ad infinitum.


But that is not solving the problem, that is just moving it elsewhere. And worse, for your "solution" to work, you depend on that "elsewhere" to exist.

It might work for a select group of servers (although I even doubt that), but if you want widespread adoption of this system, or maybe even something that's built into the out-of-the-box product (which means all servers run it) then it'll only create problem.

Also, don't confuse "pro" players with really really good players. I realize I've been intermixing the terminology a bit as well, but what I would like to make clear is that there's quite a few subliminal players out there who do it just for fun as a hobby, not in a competitive environment. But playing against them isn't annoying. Good players playing well aren't annoying IMO, it's players being cunts about it that's annoying.




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Veteran
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PostPosted: 07-17-2012 05:49 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Eraser wrote:
It might work for a select group of servers (although I even doubt that), but if you want widespread adoption of this system, or maybe even something that's built into the out-of-the-box product (which means all servers run it) then it'll only create problem.


I have never thought that my system would be part of the out-of-box distribution. That would completely change the game and that's not my intention (would not be accepted even if I tried). But I believe that it can work on a few servers set up specifically for players who find the protection it provides useful. You may be surprised yet about how many players are going to find it useful.

Eraser wrote:
Also, don't confuse "pro" players with really really good players. I realize I've been intermixing the terminology a bit as well, but what I would like to make clear is that there's quite a few subliminal players out there who do it just for fun as a hobby, not in a competitive environment. But playing against them isn't annoying. Good players playing well aren't annoying IMO, it's players being cunts about it that's annoying.


I also interpret the term 'professional' like you do (i.e. not restricted to players who participate in public tournaments with prizes). It is just a short form for 'players who have exceptional skills'. Again an example from table tennis (it is my hobby besides programming :)). I like to practice with skilled professional players (including playing matches, but always with an appropriate handicap) because I can learn a lot this way. But when I want to have fun or to play for rank points, then I go to the club and play against amateurs who are in the same skill category in which I am. And it is always my choice what kind of opponent I select. In Q3A I don't have this choice right now, unless I start my own server and invite only selected players.




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Trainee
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PostPosted: 07-21-2012 12:08 AM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


The idea of a tiered system would be good for a competition system. On the other hand for public servers, it could be just enough to have the transparency.
It could show in scoreboard the calculated 'skill'. (:D the functionality should be there from the bots - not?) While it could show on a separate list for admins, the probability that someone is cheating - maybe for un-administred servers even public.




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Veteran
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PostPosted: 07-21-2012 07:59 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


ailmanki wrote:
...
It could show in scoreboard the calculated 'skill'. (:D the functionality should be there from the bots - not?) While it could show on a separate list for admins, the probability that someone is cheating - maybe for un-administred servers even public.


What you propose is feasible to do. It would give sufficient information to players so that they can evaluate the situation and act if they wish. The tiered system then should have two settings: automatic mode (detection and kicking out players w/o human intervention), and 'manual' mode when it just provides information and the players or the admin must do the action.




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