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    PQ | Features | Mailbag | Mar 10, 2000
   

PQ Mailbag

Pattycake, Pattycake, Quaker Man

Bake me a Daikatana... wait nevermind. So here we are, and I'm typing this on my 17th birthday. Whee. This week's PQ Mailbag has a bunch of really fun stuff in it, so read it, or I'll hurt you.

Freedom: Priceless

Our ever-so-awesome trained monkey Lee'Mon stepped aside from his life o' playing games to provide us with an excellent editorial this week. "The Price of Freedom" goes into all the security issues that come with modern games. Always a good read, Sir Lee'Mon's editorial spurred lots of feedback. Check it out!

From: bastard11
Subject: Lee'Mon's security Article

As usual, very well said, congrats Lee.

There have been a couple things I've been thinking about with this pure server issue.

It would be nice to have all the serious servers at pure, but with the same freedom as Q2 servers have always been. Being able to flaunt your skin, use your new HUD graphics pak etc etc..

I like Lee's idea of having the server be able to select certain skins and models and maps etc etc that are allowed, therefore putting it all up to the server. Tho in some cases the server admin doesn't have the time to keep up to date with his/her regular's skins and such.

I know nothing passed "Basic" and "Tutorial" when it comes to coding so I'm not fully confident my idea can fly.. but if someone who knows thier stuff reads this and decides its possible.. please pimp (er.. spread the word). Online Quaking is very community based, things revolve around PlanetQuake and other such sites.

So with a fresh new game you have a chance to do something wonderful, put everything together.

I like to call it a "PURE" Verification Center, and if (id) is too busy to do it they should consider giving someone else the power.. say like gamespy industries.. ;)

A simple idea (ok, well in concept), a site where all new creations for Q3A are submitted for approval and then stamped "PURE"

meaning somehow tagged to work with the PURE server settings. In addition to broadening our choices in PURE mode it also offers a single place where EVERY (PURE only) SKIN/MAP/PAK etc etc.. made is available for download.

Of course that seems like a lot of work, could always break it up, like having polycount check all model and skin files.. etc etc. Now there is the issue of security with this, I don't know if you could do this in a way that couldn't be hacked so that every two-bit scrawny-necked worthless rule breaker out there wouldn't just be "verifying" thier own cheats.

Well anyway, just a thought.. heck I can't even play Q3A on my computer so I'm still stuck with the cheaters in Q2.

-=Bastard11=-

From: Essobie
Subject: Why have sv_pure at all?

I really enjoyed the article by Lee'Mon... and not just because he mentioned SOBPak7.pk3 in it (which can be found at http://www.planetquake.com/ra2io/ by the way). It said a lot of things I agree with as far as how cheating has been handled.

The problem that I've basically come to find in the whole idea of sv_pure is the fact that there even needs to be a sv_pure 0 setting in the first place.

If you want to play "Game X", then you should expect to join any server and play what THAT server thinks is how "Game X" should look.

This may come as a shock to those who hear me rant and rave about how I want different HUD graphics and crosshairs and a more "electric" looking version of the Lightning Gun effect, but it should be pretty simple: The server should ALWAYS be dictating to clients what the game should look like insofar as files that can be altered to give players advantages. What files those are is up to id really, but I certainly don't think it is EVERY file in pak0.pk3.

What it should NOT do is dictate who can play on a server and who can't based on their ADDITIONAL pk3 files (even though they may replace files in pak0.pk3)

Before version 1.16j, you could use a pk3 file like mine that altered crosshairs, HUD numbers, the Railgun Effect, the Lightning Gun effect, and even the "chat" balloon (mine reads "Free Kill"). It didn't matter if you were on a pure server or not. If the server wasn't pure, you got to see all the changes the new pk3 made to graphics in pak0.pk3. If you WERE on a pure server, it let you play... you just couldn't see the alterations. No harm, no foul. People still got to play, and they didn't have to rename their favorite graphics paks to stuff like "joebobspak.BAK" just to play on 50%+ servers out there set to sv_pure 1.

I can't say for sure, but I'm guessing this is because sv_pure is tied directly to the autodownload "feature" now which has to compare ALL client files with what is on the server, and start sending files that don't match up right.

I won't get off on a rant about how useless I think an autodownload feature is here, because that's an entire editorial in and of itself... I will say that whatever changes were made from version 1.15 and 1.16j in the sv_pure department were made for the worse, simply because I can't PLAY on pure servers at all with my pak. I've had to actually remove it entirely.

I think id Software does have more things to address as far as sv_pure is concerned... but they've got stuff to deal with in other areas that don't have anything to do with the anti-cheating campaign... for instance I think it is time to finally release separate flagcap, flagret, and flagtk files for red and blue teams... am I the only one that sees all SIX files in pak0 here? ;)

Essobie

From: Josh Sulli
Subject: good job

I must say, you've done an excellent job of breaking down all the different views of the security vs. freedom issue, lord knows i couldn't do it. I agree that some small amounts of cheating are unavoidable and at the same time, not very serious. People comin in with things like invisible skins and see through walls and other advantages doesn't bother me. I consider those to be small advantages. When i see people with that kind of second rate wanna be h4x0r crap, i go to irc, grab two or three of my homies and bring them to the server. We them proceed to make that persons game a living hell by hunting them down. Eventually the cheaters lose interest and leave to another server. And as long as their not bothering me, i dont care what they do. Some people would say, "What about newbies? Cheaters completely ruin their games and turn them off of Quake." In which case i can see the logic behind allowing server admins to say exactly what can and can't be used on their servers. In fact, that goes beyond just cheating. It's their server and they should have all the control they want. If an admin doesn't want Essobie's fag crosshair on their server, then it wont be their(hehe. big up to my homie SOB, your .cfg and .pk3 0\/\/n). But hey, thats just my humble take on the issue.

Peace, love & quake,

beaker.

From: Derek Yerger
Subject: Good ideas :]

Ok... Finally decided to write good ol PQ. A few things I have to say about that article about freedom in Quake. Lee'Mon mentions government a lot... So I had a killer idea that I think could work. I'm a programmer and I develop stuff for gamers... So I think this would be possible. In our government, we have citizens and non-citizens. Citizens have priveledges and protection by the US. Non-citizens don't have every priveledge. Then you have higher people... Your security people (cops, fbi, so on), and then people that lead the whole thing. Right now we're really communist as a gamer community, except for those people trying to get an extra advantage with cheats... So why not have a kind of gamer "community" that consists of "citizens" or members. Only citizens can play on this community's servers. Non-citizens could be allowed to play for a certain amount of time with permission, until they're kicked out or they could sign up and get "citizenship". So then you would have control over everything... bad citizens would be kicked out, but otherwise everything would be cool. You could do an honors system or something like that, where if a few guys complain about one guy he could be suspended or something... And then this could be taken to another level... Other people would help, trust me. Like me, as a programmer writing a rating system, I would have all of the servers run monitored. Lots of people would chip in im sure, just like everyone running a game server...

From a programming point of view, this would be easy. Just like iD has an authorization server, we would have a server to say who can play and for how long... Servers would administer this, servers being more trusted... We would send servers a signal to kick someone off a server if their time runs out or they are being punished for bad behavior. All of this could be monitored to make sure it runs ok, by having more priveledged people. Perhaps this would take care of the cheating problem by maybe having "citizens" run a program to check, or even better use that pure server thing. You could argue to use pure server without this extra "government" but im sure this would help.

From another service's point of view, look at something like AOL... how do they keep that running? They have priveledged people, and members can complain about other members by filing a "tos" report. Yea, thats basically admins but you can't use your admin on every server.... so this would be something more universal. Yea, perfect... a community which will help centralize everything. So some bot using lamer goes to a server and someone files a report for him shooting outta his ass. Well, he gets scared and goes to some other server.... does it again. normally nothing would become of this, maybe he would be kicked off one of the servers if there is an admin there.... but with this universal "government" someone could complain about them on any server in the community and the violator would be warned... or banned or something

Ok so i've had it with the cheating, i hope this would contribute to the endless battle against cheaters. I really think this could be a good idea in the right hands. I'm sure you could think of something to do with it.

From: Dae_mon_ik
Subject: RE: The Price of Freedom

I would like to start off saying that I love Quake3. It has been such a fun game for me that I started mapping for it. I obsessively collect new models and skins, often just to see what cool stuff can be made at the hands of others.

But I would also like to say that I no longer even attempt to play online because of pure servers. Because I have so many skins, models, maps and mods going on and off my system, I simply can't keep track of what is or isn't matched on the particular server I am trying to join today. I also place paks that I like and want to keep into single large paks organized by type. Such as all maps and related files go into pak8.pk3 and all skins and models go into pak7.pk3. I started doing this mainly because of the flaky way Q3 reacted to third party paks when it was first released and have found it convenient in keeping the good stuff from things I toss after 10 minutes.

But after the first few weeks I simply gave up trying to go online unless I was setting up the server. In the manual that comes with Q3 it states that a pure server is unnecessary unless you are competing in a clan tournament. Well I agree. Unless you are competing for some ranking then there is no special need for cheat protection. But while they say this, they made ‘pure’ the default server switch and never really defined how it worked. The end result, five minutes after the game was released skins that people had been holding back for the game to be put on the shelf were thrown onto the web. I wonder how many bug reports Id got from people being kicked left and right off every server on the net? All for what? To discourage a small number of cheaters.

Personally I think this was Id’s payback for all the guys who’d cracked the endless Q3tests to add new skins and maps.

When I play online I simply accept that there will be better players than me. Some people, however have made whining about their lack of skill into an art form. Low ping, high ping, FPS, internet routing traffic, alien tractor beams causing packet loss, you hear them all sooner or later. What you rarely hear is "God I suck".

But rather than saying practice, start small and then try to join a clan and practice some more, Id seems to be doing everything it can to coddle these people. What next, a hardware check so little Timmy won’t have to deal with the shock of defeat cause his 333 Celeron and Rage II video card on a 56K modem can’t cut it against ThEdEsTrOyEr who’s using his dual PIII 800 and overclocked GeForce card with the dedicated T2 connection?

There are other ways of getting around a cheater than pure servers. If you suspect someone of cheating, move to another server. Vote a kick. Better yet, everyone on the server get together and consistently frag the sucker as a group. The cheating SOB will move on.

There’s a wonderful movie out called Harrison Bergeron. In it, a small group of elitists control the world by making sure no one can be better than anyone else at anything. They do this in the interest of "fairness" and "harmony". I see similarities here.

In the end, I think we all know that just as in society, someone WILL find a way to bend the rules. The only question is how much freedom are we willing to loose to keep things even.

From: Jon Koppenhoefer
Subject: Freedom and Security

Lee'Mon's editorial was inspired in its use of the society/government metaphor to explain the problems facing the gaming community. Fortunately, since deathmatch players are all volunteers, you can impose whatever limits on player freedom you wish, and no-one's rights are violated. Under these conditions, players who wish to subvert the gaming experience can be considered terrorists and deserve whatever fate might befall them within the context of game play. This opens up a world of technical possibilities where the subversives are fair game to one and all. Other punishments--of the legal variety--perhaps in the law itself, which should treat gaming interlopers much like vandals or disturbers of the peace.

I personally look forward to new developments in the law as we struggle to deal with problems posed by the Internet technology: spammers, game subversives, chat room lurkers, etc. All are parasites who should be disciplined by the community for their abuse of others' rights to freely associate and converse on the Web without interference or harassment.

While others may rightly complain that new laws mean diminished freedom, no community may exist for long in which shared norms are not respected and observed. Since some individuals resist the common education that socializes most of us (you may remember them as the kids who "don't play well with others") the only alternative is coercion through whatever humanitarian means possible. You have a right to self-defense, and collectively, so do you as a community. Good luck in the struggle for self-governance that protects liberty. The solutions you arrive at may be a model for the rest of the world.

Commendations go out to Lee'Mon first thing, he's regained some of his feedback power. He still has to piss people off more. Now, for the editorial. Obviously, with any client/server architecture, there are going to be people who will want to exploit it to their advantage. I'm waiting for the day that people start exchanging warez via Napster. Significant tradeoffs must be made to ensure security. Pure servers are the best idea I've ever seen in ensuring online multiplayer security. Sure, some people don't like them, but you can't please everyone. An excellent example of where security is again becoming a big issue is of course, Quakeworld. With the source recently released, people are essentially free to do whatever they want, as they can compile their own clients. A lot of people are bitching that id killed Quakeworld. I see the source release as an interesting experiment. What would be good is if id could release a server that can be set to "pure". It would definitely change the entire community for the better. But what do I know? :)

On Page 2: Questions et Comments, Bruté


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