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Cheating

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First and foremost, this topic is not intended to name suspicious or 'confirmed' cheating players / hackers in this game. If you encounter a (suspected) cheater, please use the Report Hackers / Problem Players form on this forum.

 

I'm making this topic because I feel it is necessarily to be able to talk about this issue (to assess its spread), share experiences, express some concerns, ask questions, discuss some practical issues encountered, and make suggestions. Hopefully this will help and encourage Squad players to identify and report cheaters more effectively and/or with more certainty, and perhaps give the Devs some more insight on this topic.

 

I am aware that the game is still very Alpha; anything is subject to change. I also know that anti-cheat is a current top priority for the developers. But being absolutely hooked to this game and having over 125 hours of playing time since it released on Steam open Alpha, I already encountered over 10 cheaters - most of them in the past week. If anything is to destroy this game, it is cheating, and I'm going to be actively reporting any cheater I encounter from here on.

 

Symptoms

The first cheater I saw, very early on (within the first week after being released on Steam Early Access), had a name which indicated that he was one of the hack's developers, or at least affiliated with them. Unlimited grenades from a nade launcher were raining in at the rate of AK fire, without the projectile spread. The second and third time I saw a cheater, the names were different, and they were either mass shooting grenades, smoke grenades or RPG's. Those times, I went to hunt them and teamkill them (because the game was otherwise ruined anyways, and to update their score on the scoreboard showing others that it was indeed them that did it). Without exception, games with cheaters in them were pretty much over because people started leaving.

While hunting them, I noticed that the "pops" of their grenade launcher were on two occasions coming from a different source than the player's position; it seemed to be a specific location on the map, possibly the exact center of the map.

More recently, I saw a team complaining about LMG aimbotting, but I was unable to check or verify that or identify the source. I did however, on that map, hear gunfire from the center of that map as well (a different map than the first one). I'm unsure whether this is cheat-related or an unrelated bug, but will mention it here anyways.

On two occasions, more than one (blatant, nade/rocket-spammer type) cheater entered a game at the same time, and acted "innocent" in chat - even while nade spamming. The most recent ones I saw were two people who came in spamming a couple of rockets, but after being accused, tried to act innocent (despite one of them being named 'cheater') and tried (unsuccesfully) to fake RPG reload times. He would fire 12 rockets without reloading at an ammo point, or would get the fake reload time wrong (firing too rapidly). This was yesterday, and I vowed to get some video capture software in place for when I next encounter someone. When it happened, I had no way of recording it.

Summarizing the symptoms:

- Unlimited grenades, smoke grenades or rockets being shot at extremely high fire rates

- Shooting more rockets than one can have without reloading at an ammo point first, faking reload times in between

- Shooting sounds coming from a different location, possibly the center of the map (this is not confirmed to be exclusively related to cheaters)

- Suspected aimbot ability, not yet confirmed.

 

Accusations & false accusations

A very frequent occurrence in FPS games is players accusing others of cheating, when they may just be really good players. Many of those games allow some sort of spectating that can be used to check or confirm/disprove suspicions, possibly catching a cheater in the act. On Squad in its current version, cheaters are only obvious if they are blatant about it, since there is no spectating in place. When I encountered two 'non-blatant' cheaters in one game (spamming a few rpg's at start, later shooting 12 rpg's without reloading, faking reload times), people responded sarcastically when I pointed them out. One of the two cheaters joked that I seemed to be the type accusing everyone of cheating... If only that were true. :(

 

Problems identifying
- There is no kill feed. If you die, there is no way of telling who killed you, or even if it was a teammate or an enemy. This makes it difficult to determine if you keep getting killed by the same person or not, if a whole squad is headshot by the same person or not, or who that person might be.

- Currently, there is no way for players to spectate other players on Squad. Team players can see other players' names and locations on the map, see their class, and try to follow them around - but only until they get team killed.

- Scores don't update kills until you die. This is effective in preventing people using the scores as a kill feed, but causes cheaters to remain 'invisible' on the scoreboard until they die (which may not happen at all).

- Players that leave the server are removed from the scoreboard, even after the match has ended. A cheater with an excessively high score who never died can leave in time, and not be spotted/identified at all.

- I don't (yet) know how to find someone's Steam ID. If they use a generic 'common' name, I can't identify them on steam. Will try the "status" command in console the next time I play, that works in other steam games... Don't know if it works in this one though.

 

Concerns

The only thing I really fear in Squad is cheating. I love the game, even in its current form, but the way it works (with no kill feed, and the scores only updating on death and everything, which I really love) makes it hard or impossible to catch non-blatant and even blatant cheaters in the act. Relying on anti-cheat is not something I am optimistic about, because I know that cheats and anti-cheats are just a game of cat and mouse. Cheaters are stopped for a brief time until they code a way to get around it, the anti-cheat will catch them and update, the cheat will update, etcetera. I am, however, very happy that the developers consider anti-cheat to be a top priority.

The current policy against cheaters is to rely on admins to ban them, but in my experience the bigger servers (with better hardware) don't have constant admin presence, plus it is very hard to identify cheaters (and find their SteamID for example), as mentioned above.

 

Questions

- How do I find someone's steam ID? Is there a command to do so? Are there ways to identify a certain player with a common name by smart-searching for them on steam?

- What are decent programs for recording video on Squad?

 

Suggestions. Please add:

- The ability to spectate, flycam, follow players, see their first-person-view and perhaps hear their communications

- A specific anti-cheater spectating mode that is invisible (no connected/disconnected message), has a kill feed (including type of death, i.e. grenade, body shot, headshots) and sees up-to-date scores even before the players have died. Restrict this to certain anti-cheat-appointed players or Squad veterans. They could be the admins' extra eyes and ears, if you will.

(this would help enormously to gather footage on a suspected cheating player, who could then be banned based on the footage)

- A way to identify players' SteamID's (I'd also love that for friendly purposes. Many people have tried to add me on steam :wub:)

- A persistent post-match scoreboard including players that have left (instead of removing them as they leave). To stop never-dying cheaters from remaining invisible on the scoreboard.

- More tools for admins, easier or clearer ways to ring them or talk to them.

 

All in all, I applaud that the Squad developers want to rely on active server admins and the "community itself" to ban cheaters. I'm also very happy that they have "hard" anti-cheat as a top priority. However, I feel that the community needs more ways to identify cheaters. Please consider these suggestions on top of your anti-cheating efforts. :)

And if anyone can recommend ways to find SteamID's and capture video, I'd be very happy to hear them.

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Intresting... I had that bug as well with the sound... That I hear gun shots close by and then I went and hunted the person... Yet I could find nobody there just the Shots sounds... Weird...

Me running in circles ducking and what not... Luckily I was all allone and no body saw me... Hopefully...

 

they must have thought I am Shellshocked. :)

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I never had any experiences with cheaters (that I know of) until I one day joined a particular server and encountered over 5 of them. No names but 4 of those had a particular name structure like they were affiliated with each other, a group of friends or who knows. It was just as you said, automatic 40mm grenade launcher fire with infinite ammo, same for RPG. Worst was when they used marker smoke (with GL) in full auto mode causing FPS to drastically drop with the aim to see if they could crash the server. I have 4 of these guys recorded doing this, I formed an "Anti-Cheat Squad" as I named it then, to specifically hunt down these guys until I'd be able to force them to quit (also how I recorded them cheating). For me the sound did not come from the center of the map but from the actual source, which is how we knew where to took - automatic grenade launchers are a give away.

We also encountered 1 guy with LMG using aimbot, our whole team was dropping dead. The server wasn't even that populated yet this person achieved 94 kills whilst we were struggling to get away from spawn without dying.

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