At long last Quake 3 gets a serious shot in the arm from the gang over at Even Balance. Punk what you say? Well going back to my Doom and Duke days, before the advent of Quake II, cheating was not really much of an online issue. I’ll admit it, I was not a big online gamer when I truly found out what this PC gaming was all about. Two of the three aforementioned games, I played on a Macintosh, before I knew terms like DSL, ‘n00b’ or ‘gg’ meant.
Quake II changed all that, as I was introduced to LAN parties and graphics cards. The Macintosh suddenly turned into a monitor stand, as PC gaming took over. Cheating was not far to follow, from the M4 script in Action Quake 2, to the bright skins in Quake 2, it was there. A living, breathing entity.
In 2000 some “gaming enthusiasts” got together, concerned about the state of gaming with an increase of cheating online. About a year later that group formed what you know today as Even Balance, Inc. Their software system, “is designed to hold all participants accountable by scanning the game computers looking for known cheats, game hacks, and exploits similar to the way Anti-Virus software would scan a computer looking for a virus. PunkBuster does not modify any files or settings on your computer even if it detects some type of violation, it reports what it finds and, in some cases, will remove offending players from the current game.”
While I did not play much Quake III online, I did get into the mod scene and to be completely honest, Silicon Ice Development has been very lucky, until recently, when it comes to the amount of cheating that took place. Of course there were typical wallhacks, which was probably one of the first and most notable hacks. While this did garnish some attention, it really should be the responsibility of id Software, whom at that time had already released the “final” 1.31 point release, to defeat hacks like this. Gamers also got very creative with some of the “developer” commands. I must admit, some gamers were quite ingenious when it came to hacks.
Suddenly, one day that all changed with the release of the OGC bot, by some worthless hack. You got it, a bot that sent every gamer running for a demo script in order to record and accuse their fellow gamers. Some of which I am sure were falsely charged. Regardless, it was here, but we did not want to “officially” address it and bring more attention to some worthless hack, who cannot find a better way to spend his time, than to ruin our mod.
Once id Software announced the release of a “new” point release with PunkBuster integration, the Quake III Community was all a buzz. While cheating would probably not be completely obliterated, there would be some groundbreaking changes to online gaming.
I actually heard about PunkBuster from the Half Life Counter-Strike Community. Of course I really had no idea how it all worked. Most of what I heard was negative, that it was not well supported and that cheaters would prosper. I guess he with the most cheats, wins in Counter-Strike. Sorry, I don’t find that enjoyable.
Regardless of skill level, cheating seems to ruin what many gamers find fun. Regardless if you can spot a cheat or not, it usually stirs controversy on and off a server. So to say the Urban Terror was anticipating the new point release is an understatement. Many of the comparisons were drawn with Counter-Strike, being a mod, rather than Return to Castle Wolfenstein, which made a better comparison. Why? Same engines and similar code. I had talked to a few people in the industry and visited PunkBuster’s site previously, so I had a good idea on what to expect.
As with all point releases, there are always issues. The release of 1.32 was no different. Questions rolled in by the minute, on the forums, in IRC and via e-mail. Of course many overlooked the readme.txt file that was included that said, “To enable PunkBuster so that you can join PunkBuster enabled servers, click ‘Multiplayer’ from the main menu. Find the clickable item in the upper right portion of the in-game server browser screen that says PunkBuster: Disabled and click it.” Many opted for the easy way out by asking rather than being resourceful. Guess that means I get to keep my job as answer man on the forums. Hahaha.
Now, three days in and all the buzz is how many problems gamers are having with PunkBuster. These problems range from an invalid (you warez monkey!) CD key, to CLIENT_UNKNOWN_TO_AUTH, to being kicked from a server due to ‘ogc_’ cvars in their config or do not know how to enable PunkBuster. As I said, it takes time for things to work themselves out. Another stumbling block was that of the PunkBuster server config file. This would now give admins the authority to loosen to tighten restrictions on what gamers could and could not use on their server.
Many of these issues and ones like it are slowly beginning to lessen. Yeah, there are still gamers who continue to knock the point release and PunkBuster for “causing problems.” In the end, this is a “win win” situation, for both the gamers who enjoy Urban Terror and people like myself, a mod developer. This is something that will allow SID to concentrate at what matters most. The mod, not the cheats. And to the worthless hack who continues to fight PunkBuster, I got three words. “Bring it on!”