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Punkbuster: Destroyer of Mod Communities


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It cracks me up, I've played three games with PunkBuster enabled.  I've never even touched the game folders, added anything or tweaked anything.  Just take a guess as to how many PB problems I've had, and this goes for the majority of others.

You're a little off base about PB. In FC if you open the Sandbox editor PB will come back w/a kick cuz you "modified" your effects.pak folder. You don't have to even go into the FarCry folder to do this. Also, I can set my server cvar checks and you can be booted for stuff such as gamma settings on your monitor or mouse speed settings. I don't use mouse speed smoothing or any of that such stuff when I play, but by merely setting the cvars to a value other than zero will get you booted. Some people have old monitors they have to pump the gamma up on to get them to work. Yeah, gamma boost can be used to unfair advantage on night maps, but it can also result in kicking of someone whose equipment isn't as good as the next guys.

As far as your 1337ness w/AA and PB, you realize that there is rampant hacking going on in AA right? And there's no way to stop it cuz PB is always playing "catch up". Replays will fix this in GR2. A vigilant server admin will have a clean server w/replays, if he ignores his server he won't. The same can be said for PB (when it's working correctly). There are very few people who understand how PB works and it's easier to set up PB incorrectly just because of lack of understanding. The only function that (IMHO) is worth a damn is the screenshot function, but you can tell when auto SS's are taken, the server takes a noticable lag spike. This is fact. Couple that with the fact that if EvenBalance hasn't totally integrated PB perfectly, you have the server continuing to do function calls and integrity checks over and over to the point of using precious bandwith and cpu cycles. For instance, in FC once PB verifies your GUID and logs it to memory you'd think that it would move on to checking hashes and cvars, right? Not so, it's poorly implemented and it continues to verify the player's GUID over and over, between map changes just as if you'd joined the server all over again.

Those of you who buy into the hype about PB are misinformed terribly. It's flawed software that unfairly bans some people, and only catches the n00biest of the boogereaters. These are the same cheaters who still suck hard even w/the cheats. Those of you that know me know how hardcore I am against hackers, and I have tons of experience w/replays and punkbuster. I'm here to tell you that having had to deal w/both of them that replays are by and large a better tool than a software anticheat such as PB is. PB is a compromise that in practice doesn't offer much but the occasional catch that can be done by a present admin on the server and replays. And replays don't lie, they show exactly what went on in the server. You can even spot server lag in replays. Replays use the game engine itself to calculate where the bullets went. Aimbot, Retlock and the lot are easy as hell to spot in replays if you know what to look for.

Last but not least are the servers that won't run PB. Most of the time it's because PB lags the hell out of dedicated servers. Now you have a server w/out any tools whatsoever to police itself. Being forced to endure lag in the hopes of catching a hacker or disabling it so that your clients can play relatively lag free. It's a hard choice isn't it? Replays don't take up bandwith. There will always be hackers. I've sent replays to other server admins and they've made their own decisions on whether or not to ban the offender. I have about 500 replays that look like the one in the video I posted above. That's proof positive. PB just says "Trust me, Player A was hacking". Last time that happened Witness' name was dragged thru the dirt and he was proven innocent. Why put trust in something we can't see when replays prove once and for all the who/what/when/where?

Edited by ruggbutt
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Punkbuster is a great program it keeps most of the little cheaters out.

And it Allows mods fine...

Take a look at BattleField 1942, Call Of Duty, Farcry, and Yes even Raven Shield.

Beleive it or not it doesnt effect mods a lot.

Onlything reason PB sucks is the auto update thing dont always work and packetflow is problem somtimes.

But its all good :rocky:

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Punkbuster is a great program it keeps most of the little cheaters out.

And it Allows mods fine...

Not quite. Only if its submitted and goes through proper channels. As a result, the modding communities for those games are built around a very few, select, well developed mods. Granted, it weeds out the weak, but it also weeds out anyone who has a creative notion and wants to entertain thousands of people for free.

What has benefiteed the GR1 comunity is quite the opposite -- a vast constellation of unbounded creativity without clearance, bearaucracy, or limits. For every mod in the games you mentioned, there are over 100 in GR. (if not a thousand)

@Kurtz:

if, say, you put Rugbutts code in the dedicated server, you can detect cheats without worryng about mods because you are looking at pure network data packets. There are a set of parameters that will never change. But when you are scanning raw memory for MD5 keys, there is no way to know exactly what has been modifed there -- only that the data is not what the MD5 foorprint expects. The parameters are unknown -- unless the mod author has submitted it and PB has added it to the update. A time consuming process for both parties, as indicated by the lack of modding communities. Having 3 big popular mods and nothing else is not a modding community in my book. It nothing more than a bunch of players torn between a divided community because the devs failed to see the future of gaming and take serious putting network packet sniffing code in the dedicated server itself.

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Thanks for extrapolating on my post Harntrox. Not sure if anyone completely understood what I said, I did though......lol. It's nice to explain exactly what goes on w/PB and how it will call someone a cheat if the code it finds is unknown. This could be anything from a server configuration override (for IP and admin password to a dedicated server), a .lua script for quickchat keybinds or a genuine hack. I happen to have the first two in my FarCry folder. If PB scanned anything but my FC Data folder it would see these as a cheat. Punkbuster calls anything a cheat that it does not recognize. If you hash a game file incorrectly you could cause PB to boot someone for "cheating".

IMHO it takes the human element out of the equation, which is a bad idea.

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Why put trust in something we can't see when replays prove once and for all the who/what/when/where?

Same goes for people as well. There are a lot of screwed up people that play games that I wouldnt trust. I've done lots of things in AA, that if I were in a leased server with a touchy admin, I'd get banned... and no, I'm not cheating. I had 27 kills and 3 deaths in six rounds on the CSAR map, just take a guess as to how many times I heard "you cheat." I have no doubt that if I were playing in a leased server I would of been banned.

PB is free, not you or I need to pay for it, but I'm now in a squad that pays PB to say that we're officially registered. Perhaps if more people did this, they would work harder at fixing some of the things you brought up.

As for Witness, I believe you said he had the beta of the MD5 tool, or something of the sort. (Correct me, I cant remember.) That's just it. The AA, and when I played ET and RvS folders were left COMPLETELY alone. Maybe I just thinking differently. :unsure:

Anyways, sounds as if a combination of both is best.

Hopefully the post made sense, as I'm doing a few different things at once here.

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@ rugg and crimson,

according to the devs, PB doesnt scan files on your HD, only whats in memory.

@ everybody(!)

i agree that what the PB devs have done is a noble attempt at getting rid of the cheaters (in old games and middleware). but it is not necessary if the people who code the games know what they are looking for and put in cheat detection directly in the server app.

whats more, in a game like GR where RSE gives you high-level access to the modding features of the engine, (as opposed to a low-level C++ library or SDK), it has the abysmal side effect of dividing a gaming community between those who want free content and those who want to have less cheating. which is both lame and unneccessary because you can stop cheating in the server code directly, as its done in all the MMRPG's where cheating would put the product out of business.

PB is great for old games where the coders didn't have the budget, or used middleware and therefore had no way to take it to the limit with cheat detection.

in a modern game there is simply no excuse.

re: VAC

Valve didn't use PB because they know how their code works, and unlike PB, were able to take it to the limit and stop the cheaters by sniffing network packets on the server. but once again it was an afterthought because they didnt take cheating serious back in '96 when they wrote the code. it was a different world then.

Edited by harntrox
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according to the devs, PB doesnt scan files on your HD, only whats in memory.

I believe the majority of people know this, because if it scanned your HD without your approval, it would be considered a virus.

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So, either RSE writes an anticheat for the game or it's still open season for cheaters and haxors at Ubi, guaranteeing rigged games for new players, until they are advised to use ASE or some alternative. They say they are working on it so we'll see what they come up with.

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I understand punbuster doesnt catch every one...

there will always be cheaters but it will catch the lttle kid that goes to a website to find a hack out

There is a little program called Fraps .... and trust me this works....

get the players GUID, record short clip in with fraps of the cheater in spectator mode...

and it will get that person on the master ban list very quickly. :rofl:

PB is better then nothing and it doesnt screw up gamelpaly unless the server has a small pipe

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Replays and screen captures are the best answer for moderated servers with experienced admins. The real problem is on the public service where they are not moderated and there is no admin. In this case, it could be the host who is using a cheat or hack.

Ubi used to be a decent place to play and you could find some real good people there, but, I think they have been driven off by the immature and rude people, the profanity, the ghosting and the rest of the crap that overruns the service.

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So rugg, in GR's prime, what do you think your playing time vs watching replay ratio was? I mean, if you've got a full server, with most of the games under ten minutes... seems like you'll need someone who doesnt mind playing the game they paid $45(ish) for.

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Thats the price you pay to run a good clean server. We usually had a majority of clan guys, they'd icq me and tell me to pull the replays of the map. With my Admin tool it's easy to catch them hacking.

PB doesn't do squat but cause lag and kick people. I run a dedicated server and I've ran it w/out PB. The difference is night and day.

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Causes lag? I ping AA servers at around 30-60 ms, same for RvS when I used to play it. Ingame I never lagged unless the server itself wasnt too good, or I'm having problems on my end.

Well, my idea of having fun playing a game is exactly that, playing the game. I let PB do its job, and if there is a cheater that no one is having luck killing, I go else where.

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Well Crim, I run a dedicated server that uses PB. It causes lag. Lag spikes when it auto SS's, lag when someone joins and checks the players GUID, lags whenever it performs one of it's functions.

My server is a P4 3.0, 1 Gig of DDR400, 800Mhz FSB and it's a fiber optic connect/100mbit. When PB is off this doesn't occur. This has been the case w/FarCry since it was released. I was a beta tester and even the beta dedicated server (which had no PB) didn't have lag issues like the game release with PB does. My home connection is 540 up/4mb down, I ping 47 to our server and the damn thing lags everytime PB runs a function. That's a fact.

And leaving isn't an option for me or my squad. We pay for our server and play in our server. I can host 32 people on it w/no lag (when PB is off). Replays served the server admins well in the past, and PB isn't serving them well now. I want proof someone is cheating.

The thing is that you are believing the hype about PB. Howbout you give me some absolute proof that it even works? I have proof it doesn't, all I need do is point you at the incident w/Witness. Tony Ray from EvenBalance stated PB was incorrect in calling him a cheater. The cheaters that I've caught on our server didn't get caught by the cvar and .pak file checks. As far as cheaters in Ghost Recon, I have absolute proof in the form of 500 odd replays.

Proof is everything, and trusting in a piece of software (that's constantly being patched) is ignorant.

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Howbout you give me some absolute proof that it even works?

I have seen it work many times. The global ban is awesome! No longer can they play on any PB server again. I'm not saying PB is perfect or good but I have seen it work. Mostly while playing AA.

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I'm talking about proof. You've seen what work? You've seen software working in the background working? You haven't seen anything. There is no proof. You are being asked to trust in a piece of software that's constantly being patched. The fact that it has to be patched means it's fallible to start with.

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I have seen it work many times. The global ban is awesome! No longer can they play on any PB server again.

The global ban is the best part of PB, and it's the one thing woefully missing if you just have replays. Why can't we have both? Shouldn't we have both? The only thing missing would be a method for adding haxors to the global ban list who were cuaght via replays. Replays could be submitted to a group such as Respected Admins, and if they confirm the cheat the haxor is added to the global ban list.

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The global ban is the best part of PB, and it's the one thing woefully missing if you just have replays.  Why can't we have both?  Shouldn't we have both?  The only thing missing would be a method for adding haxors to the global ban list who were cuaght via replays.  Replays could be submitted to a group such as Respected Admins, and if they confirm the cheat the haxor is added to the global ban list.

When I posted that I was forgetting the point of this thread. "Punkbuster: Destroyer of Mod Communities" My only experience with PB is in RvS. My only FPS experience without PB is GR. Comparing GR and RvS, I can only conclude that Harntrox is right. The RvS modding community is practically nonexistent. The one good modding aspect that RvS has going for it is the ability to make new maps without using 3DSMx. GR has had a wealth of mods. Everything from "simple" mission mods to complete conversions of the game, i.e. "Starship Troppers."

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the cheat the haxor is added to the global ban list.

The problem there is that if PB doesn't recognize something (such as a mod) or a corrupted file (as a result of using the mission editor) then it labels that which it doesn't recognize as a cheat.

Are you willing to have people that mess around in the editor being banned forever, w/no hard proof?

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I'm talking about proof.  You've seen what work?  You've seen software working in the background working?  You haven't seen anything.  There is no proof.  You are being asked to trust in a piece of software that's constantly being patched.  The fact that it has to be patched means it's fallible to start with.

OK, this is no conspiracy... I have seen a hacker get a global ban. How do I know for sure the guy was a hacker, because he was on ventrillo with me when it happened and admitted it. It might not work all the time but to say it doesnt work at all is rediculus. Thats proof enough for me.

Edited by EasyCo
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When I posted that I was forgetting the point of this thread.  "Punkbuster: Destroyer of Mod Communities"  My only experience with PB is in RvS.  My only FPS experience without PB is GR.  Comparing GR and RvS, I can only conclude that Harntrox is right.  The RvS modding community is practically nonexistent.  The one good modding aspect that RvS has going for it is the ability to make new maps without using 3DSMx.  GR has had a wealth of mods.  Everything from "simple" mission mods to complete conversions of the game, i.e. "Starship Troppers."

That's because UBI or RSE havent released any tools to make mods like what was done with GR.

@EasyCo - Thank you. :)

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I have seen a hacker get a global ban.

And I've seen an innocent man's name dragged thru the mud cuz PB was wrong. The point I was making was that you have to trust in PB. If you had not been on comms w/the guy how would you have known he was guilty? I'd rather see 10 haxors go free than one innocent man be called a cheater.

I didn't say PB didn't work, it just doesn't work well. And if it doesn't recognize a "file" then it calls you a cheater. Even if it's a script to keybind quick chat messages (ie. enemies at front right, frag incoming).

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Point taken, Rugg. If we could get Even Balance and the game developers/publishers to embrace the idea that PB and replays should go hand in hand (i.e. a PB enalbed server must include replays), then wrongfully banned peeps can use replays to prove their innocence.

Harntrox sticks to the idea that the game itself can be coded to stop cheating. He knows way more about this than I do, and I assume his statement about the solid coding for MMRPG's is correct, therefore I believe him.

When I asked, why can't we have both PB and replays, I really meant, why can't we have "some sofware-based cheat detector" and replays? To me, the situation is analagous to computer/network security. Your best approach is to use multiple layers (eg, a router with DHCP, a software firewall, and an anti-virus).

But, Rugg points out a huge problem, what happens when the "sofware-based cheat detector" fails? Who is going to review "false positive" cases? Who's going to look for "false negative" cases? I would be willing to bet that the game developers/publishers have no desire to do this. So, they let a 3rd party, such as Even Balance, tackle the task. I'm sure Even Balance actively looks for new cheats, but I have no idea how they do it. And from the anecdotes I've read, the process for getting your name off the ban list is not well defined.

As I said, the best approach is multilayered. It would consist of 4 layers.

1) Properly coded games to eliminate cheating and glitching.

2) 3rd party software to monitor for cheating

3) Replays

4) Global ban list

Responsibilities for porperly impementing and administering this system would fall to the corresponding groups respectively.

1) Game developers/publishers

2) 3rd party software coders (eg, Even Balance)

3) Implemented by game developers/publishers and admistered by the gaming community

4) Joint effort between the 3rd party software coders and the gaming community.

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Thanks AR, you understand the most important point (IMHO) regarding PB. The other problem is that punksbusted.com are handling the issues w/the MBL and when Witness was "caught" they refused to listen to anyone who posted explaining to them that EB released the MD5 tool w/the caveat that it was a beta. I got banned over there because of exactly what I've posted here. I asked them to explain how they could put Wit on the MBL w/a beta tool. Instead I got the typical fanboi response that PB isn't wrong. Witness' name was dragged thru the mud and we lose a valued member of the community. AFAIK he's not active in gaming ladders nor UBI (as a mod) anymore. It's a shame really......

Had this never occurred then I might view PB differently. While I do frequent punksbusted.com for PB tips and tricks, I'm under no false conceptions that it works very well. Unfortunately the community at large doesn't really understand how it works (or doesn't work) and they mimic the comments of those that came before them, that PB is a fantastic piece of anticheat software. Having spent as many hours fussing w/PB as I had w/replays (in the same frame of time) I can tell you that the detriments of PB outweigh it's attributes.

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