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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Online cheaters face games ban
Counter-Strike screen shot, Vivendi
The squad-based shooter is hugely popular
Gamers who cheat while playing the popular online game Counter-Strike could soon find themselves banned from official servers for 24 hours.

An updated anti-cheating system put in place by the games makers can spot who is not playing fair, can throw them off a server and make sure they cannot log on to games being played on other machines.

Initially bans will only last a day but Counter-Strike creator Valve said it would extend the penalty period in the future.

Many players welcomed the improved anti-cheating system but few think it will completely stop some gamers exploiting loopholes for gain.

Life ban

Anyone who has ever played an online shooting game will know that cheats ruin the fun for everyone.

But before now it has been hard to be sure that someone is cheating and letting software do the work for them or is just a far better player than anyone else on a server.

One of the games plagued by cheating is Counter-Strike, a modification of the hugely popular game Half-Life that pits squads of terrorists and troops against each other.

Counter-Strike screen shot, Vivendi
Sneaking and sniping are part of the game
Half Life creator Valve has released an updated version of anti-cheating software that it claims can spot and ban cheats.

Anyone found cheating will be banned from all servers for 24 hours.

"We'll be increasing the penalty for cheating dramatically over time as we become more comfortable with how the system is operating," wrote Erik Smith of Valve in a message circulated among the Counter-Strike community.

"I believe Valve's Anti-cheat is doing a great job," said Troy Miller, spokesman for United Admins which acts as a talking shop and trade group for people who look after and administer game servers.

United Admins also has its own anti-cheating software, called HLGuard, and Mr Miller said together the two should stop the most widely used cheats.

Popular cheats help players improve their aim, reload quicker, stop recoil and spot opponents even when they are behind walls.

"I think that the Valve anti-cheat software helps a little bit but I still see many cheaters on public servers," said Korhan Kiran, alias Naoumi from the Team Illusion clan, "so I don't think it's helping for 100% but more like 60%."

Tweak sheet

Craig Lumley, aka Dark Sun of the Ne.uK clan, said game administrators are starting to get better at spotting cheats and the software will help them do their job.

"I don't think cheats are as common as they once were," he said, "and most of the time people are not cheating, they are just really good."

But he said even if the cheats are caught out by software there are other "tweaks" that can be made to the games configuration files are some may not consider to be cheating even though they bestow an advantage.

Some so-called "config" changes make it easier for a player to shoot someone in the head, boost net connection speeds or make it easier to shoot opposing players.

Some popular servers are now enforcing common "config" files to ensure everyone gets a level playing field.

See also:

13 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
15 Feb 02 | Reviews
20 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
29 Oct 01 | dot life
10 Jan 02 | Reviews
02 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
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