Friday, December 8, 2006

Banned Camp

This probably isn’t even technically ‘News’ anymore, but the smug attitude that came with it was just too much to pass up. An endgame Horde guild on the Black Dragonflight realm was recently banned for cheating in AQ40. For the three of you out there that don’t know what that last sentence meant, An’Qiraj is a large, forty man raid instance in World of Warcraft. While it is not the current ‘last dungeon to conquer’ (Naxxramas), it’s second to last, and has some of the best raid loots in the game.

Now… let me get one thing out there in the open before this article goes any further. I honestly don’t care if you cheat, or hack, or do whatever. It’s your 15 bucks a month, and you can do with it as you please. Blizzard will never show up on your doorstep with lawyers and try to sue you for exploiting holes in their code. The worst you’ll see is a banning, big whoop-de-doo. I don’t really play battlegrounds, so I never feel the brunt of any PvP exploits people may have found, and PvE cheats don’t really have an impact on my playtime. Sure, you may be getting a huge sword for no work at all, and if you happen to use it to cut me in half while I’m running to meet up with my group, then I guess it has affected me… but it’s not like you’re swinging a weapon that isn’t available in the game. If you didn’t have it, Bob would have it, and he’d just be the one to chop me in half instead. That kind of stuff just happens on PvP servers, and I’m fully prepared to take the corpse run and move on with my life. I certainly don’t start flame wars on forums accusing everyone with a big sword of hacking or whatever.

The shortest path from Point A to Point B is apparently wallhacks.
What cracks me up about this particular case is the overall ‘gloating over being caught’ that our friend “Kletus” is about to grace us with. His guild used a modified version of the AQ40 map, which allowed them to walk thru certain walls straight to C’thun (the final boss), kill him for best loots in the dungeon, and skip all the crap on the way. The way that WoW does data verification means that it checks to see if certain files are where they should be, not that they contain the exact info they should. By replacing a few key files, WoW sees the files are there, loads the zone, and allows the merry band to continue on their way.

Something that none of the general forum-flaming-public seems to have noticed is the fact that you still need to be able to kill the boss that you’re shortcutting to – something I certainly couldn’t do. Even if a red carpet to C’thun were laid out in front of every guild I’ve ever been in, we just wouldn’t have had the firepower or coordination to actually kill him. If the hack was ‘load the dungeon, and then just run around looting things’ then that would be pretty lame. This is all speculation, though, and beside the point.

The last thing to note is that the entire raid needed to be on the same page. It’s not like some raid leader loaded up HaXoRz, and no one else knew about it. It had to have been a premeditated, coordinated effort. Everyone needed to be walked thru how to ‘load the hack’ (it’s not just dropping a file in a folder, you need to actually fool the WoW installation into ‘patching’ itself). I’ve been the “IT Guy” for a guild or two, and know how retarded everyday people can be with simple tasks like registering for a forum account. Trying to get 40 people on the same page with modified map hacks must have been an entire can of worms unto itself. Not that they’re hard to FIND or anything… the latest WoW hacks are apparently conveniently served up on FileFront.

Just for argument's sake, try to imagine how you’d feel if you had any aprehension on the matter. Here you are, Fred the Honest Druid. All you want is to cast Healing Touch and Regrowth until your index finger bleeds. You’ve labored over your little toon from Zero to Sixty, from Twill Bracers to Cenarion Bracers to Dreamwalker Wristguards. From the lowly Wailing Caverns to Zul’Gurub and Ruins of An’Qiraj. Into the Molten Core, past Black Wing Lair, on and on you pushed, all the way to the Fabled Shores of End Game. You're finally in that AQ40 guild, one step from the ‘final dungeon’ (until expansion, but I digress). Thirty-five close guildmates have suddenly decided to cheat in the final stretch for easy loots. You feel pressured, and don't want to take the easy way out. This guild has proven that they can kill the last boss, they just don’t want to deal with the hassle of getting to him each week for his loots. In the end, you succumb to peer pressure and do it. Three weeks go by (three runs of the dungeon, it resets every seven days), and maybe you even feel like ‘it worked’. Then one day you log in to find that you just can’t log in… in fact, your entire guild has been permanently banned, and everyone on the server (and in the gaming news) knows about it.

I will put money down that people wept. Hot and salty god-damned tears of HEART WRENCHING SORROW for their lost toons. Not only the toons that actually went to AQ40, but also any level 40-ish alts on that same account that were putzing around in the Scarlet Monastery. I’ll bet desperate emo emails (emoiles?) were sent to Blizzard, angry accusations flew over ventrilo, a falling out of proportions that maybe only one or two actually imagined would ‘maybe’ happen.


Anyway, without further ado, I present to you Exhibit A: “Kletus”. Self-appointed Royal Justifier of the guild :

Originally Posted by Kletus
The patch we used was called 'Patch 5.mpq' not Patch 3, but nevertheless the outcome was basically the same.

We used this cheat two or three times to make the headache of C'thun trash go away. And we only began using it after we had already "beaten the game." While most of us were aware of the possible consequences, we basically had to do it. Let me explain.

Since the majority of our guild's equipment is beyond that offered in the temple of AQ, there is little incentive for our raiders to go there at all. Basically all we get from there is a nasty repair bill. The only loot worth anything drops off of the last boss, so naturally it came to the point where only a handful wanted to go to AQ because of the incredible cost of time and gold, with little reward.

With this cheat, we could basically eliminate the repair bills, the grueling 4++ hour clear, and actually have the required raid online to kill C'Thun before people started getting sandy and logging out.

So we hacked. We lost. Game over. It was a good run.

Did we hack Naxx? Nope. Although we have been guilty of 'clever use of game mechanics'. We by chance discovered the 8/8 wrath bug on Patchwerk on our third or fourth kill and used that exploit the following week before it was hotfixed. Resetting the four horsemen isn't hard. Besides, it gives no advantage because you still have to wait for the dead to run back.

Estimated total eBay value of banned accounts: $60,000+
Was it worth it in the end? Hell yes.

Congratulations, Kletus. I’m not sure what that last part is implying… that he could have sold those accounts on ebay for $60,000+, or that he actually did after being banned, or…? If he could have, but now can't because those accounts are banned, all the better. $60,000 worth of grinding up in smoke?

Double Awesome.

Regardless of the whole ebay implications, my favorite part has to be the following :

Originally Posted by Kletus
Was it worth it in the end? Hell yes.
Translation: Did we get caught cheating and get our entire guild banned from the game? Totally! DooD, we Rool!

Click me for Mad Korean DM “Teleport Hack” Love Scenes
Hate to burst your bubble, but getting banned isn’t exactly an accomplishment. It's hardly a "World First". While more ‘mundane’ activities like rapid fire spamming guild invites to everyone on the server (causing the server to crash), might net you a 3 hour suspension, actively replacing map files or using teleport exploits are a pretty sure-fire method. If he means ‘was it worth it that everyone is suddenly writing articles about us’ then hooray! You win! Too bad everything I’ve read pretty much ends up with the writer going on about how stupid you were. Attention is attention, though. If you got banned for hacking Ragefire Chasm (the first instance, runnable at level 8) then it would be funny, but I just don’t understand the need to do it at the end.

Originally Posted by Kletus
While most of us were aware of the possible consequences, we basically had to do it.

Since the majority of our guild's equipment is beyond that offered in the temple of AQ, there is little incentive for our raiders to go there at all.
C'thun and babies don't mix
You HAD to do it? I love this part. What was the alternative? Not having “teh lootz”? You’re absolutely right, then. You had no choice. And yet... you say yourself you 'didn't even need' the loot. But Iso! What about the Noobs? They need C'thun gear, too! Awww, it's so cute! Did the wittle guiwd noobs get sweepy after a “grueling 4++ hours” in Naxx? Maybe you should have made them some warm milk and tucked them in for lullabies. I hear cocoa works great on the little ones when they get cranky. Besides, you know what they say: Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Give a guild noob wallhacks...

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