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The Division’s PC cheating problems are unfixable, says veteran dev

by Eric Frederiksen | April 28, 2016April 28, 2016 12:15 pm PST

While The Division is having its share of problems across the board, the problems on PC are much, much worse than they are on consoles. This became apparent during the beta for the game – quite a bit of time before release, but way past time to do any deep changes. The problem probably isn’t going to get better, either, according to a veteran developer with experience at Sony, Respawn, Irrational, and Pandemic Games.

Developer Glenn Fielder dug into the issue and explains, trying to answer the questions of “how bad are these hacks and… can they be fixed?”

Fielder saw a video depicting a client-side cheat program that is “poking memory locations and giving players infinite health, infinite ammo, and teleporting players around the level.”

He says that the game is using a “Trusted Client” network model based on what he’s seen, and that if this is the case, the game is likely unfixable. Fielder says that Ubisoft would have to “completely rewrite most of their netcode and game code around a server-authoritative network model,” and calls the problem “a fundamental misunderstanding of how FPS games are networked.”

What that means is that the game is modified before it’s sent to the server, and the server can’t do anything about it. The server has no way of checking if what the client, the game, is sending it is valid. It just assumes it’s all good. That guy’s definitely supposed to have 2,147,483,647 hit points. Of course we trust you. In a server-authoritative model, what happens on the server is all that counts, so stuff like that is discarded out of hand. It’s like two kids playing cops and robbers and arguing about who shot and what happened to the bullets. Yeah, you may have shot first, but I have bullet proof armor. Infinity times infinity bulletproof.

Ubisoft could already be working on the sort of client he refers to, which would be a pretty large patch. If they try to make it work as is, it sounds like it’ll be a continual arms race between Ubisoft and hackers, though. It seems like a huge oversight to make, so I can’t help but wonder if it was done for the sake of player-to-player performance or something like that. If you’re playing it mostly as an MMO, sticking to the missions and cooperative elements, you may never run into this stuff, but it’s sure to come up before too long once you venture into the Dark Zone. If Ubisoft can’t fix it, it could become a big problem, as a portion of the game they’ve sold people is essentially unplayable.

Like Fielder, I’m rooting for the development team despite evidence that there may not be much hope.


Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...

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