I’m going to preface this post with a picture to prove just how long I’ve been playing this game and how much time I’ve invested in it, not because I believe I deserve to be heard any more than anyone else, but because people tend to dismiss what I’m about to discuss as being something other than what it is.
So, here we are again. Yet another one of “these” threads. I apologize for how long this will be, however it can’t be said in a brief summary.
I came back this past year (2020) to Conan, after taking a 6 or so month break from playing official PVP servers on the exiled lands, when I saw that a new map was coming out. I had reached a breaking point after struggling endlessly to try to keep the server(s) I played on free from cheaters, a futile effort when to even this day, people store their ill-gotten loot on “body vaults” that disappear from the game, making it a permanent and invincible way to jump back in at any point with items that were potentially obtained by cheating in one way or another.
Isle of Siptah made me optimistic to play this game that I so love again. Starting on even footing with everyone, on fresh servers that haven’t been tainted by duplicating, was an appealing proposition, especially having read that there was some effort being made to stop meshing once and for all. Little did I know that Isle of Siptah would release without the mesh detection system enabled on it, regardless of whether it actually works or not.
For the last few weeks now, the server I play on has been overrun by hackers. The population spiked, and as a result, it started drawing the attention of good and bad players alike. We see the server being crashed numerous times a day (sometimes 20 or more times in a single day). People are becoming godlike because of their attributes being maxed out. Cave bases have become useless and abandoned because people either walk right through the wall to loot everything they can, or they raid your base from inside the terrain to make a hole to get in, bypassing your doors, gates, drawbridges etc.
Don’t bother actually trying to find those responsible unless you can cheat yourself though, because they build in the mesh. And even if you do find them, they’ll just crash the server repeatedly if you try to raid them.
None of this is new to me, though. I’m used to dealing with and compensating for these same old, tired methods of cheating the game. This brings me to the primary concern and reason for my post here today. A problem that goes far above and beyond anything else I’ve mentioned here so far. Flash back about a year ago, and some of you may remember a few nights where a hacker showed up on numerous official PVP servers, 1600 being one of many that he came to. He was showing off what he could do, and was trying to make some sort of point to Funcom.
His player character was larger than even a summoned god. He was speed hacking, running through structures and bases as if they didn’t exist, and most concerningly, this guy could loot from locked containers. I watched it happen with my own eyes as he showed off what he could do. He pulled all of my loot out of a locked vault and dropped it on the ground in front of me. Worse yet, nothing showed up on the event log when he did it. Zero indication that anything had happened, other than the vault being empty.
This guy did so much damage to so many servers that it caused Funcom to initiate rollbacks in an attempt to undo what was done.
The guy was likely banned and I had heard nothing more about it since then, assuming heavily that Funcom had dealt with the issue and fixed it so that it was no longer possible. How naïve of me to think that. Flash forward to now, and the same hack is being used well over a year later. One of the hackers on the server, only a few nights before, was trying to turn the server on the alpha clan by claiming he was leaving, as he had seen the alpha using speed hacks and looting from his locked vaults. “How odd”, I thought to myself, having not heard about this hack in such a long time.
I get on the next day and start looking for something in one of my vaults, when panic sets in. The vault with my T4 thralls is empty. It must be a mistake, I thought. Maybe I moved them. I started looking around at my other vaults and discovered numerous had been emptied. Months worth of work, of my time investment, gone at the click of a mouse, without so much as a peep in the event logs to show that the items had been removed. 30-40+ stacks of alchemical base, numerous arch priests, T4 crafters, archers and a T4 fighter, premade T3 building pieces, T3 building components, epic armor, reinforcements, metal bars, bricks, woods, T3 thralls, dozens of end game saddles, all gone. On a map designed to be more difficult to farm on, and much more difficult to obtain decent thralls on. And that’s just what I know for certain based on memory and looking at logs from weeks ago.
This brings me to my main point. In almost 6000 hours of my time invested in playing solely on PVP servers, I’ve been the victim of cheating more times than I’d care to admit. And every single time, you know what hurts even more than the time lost? Knowing that Funcom will never lift a finger to help repair the damage done. Sure, I can try to present 100% irrefutable proof through pictures and videos and hope that it’s enough to get a cheater banned. But the types of people that are willing to go to this length to get ahead, do their dirty work on secondary steam accounts that are completely expendable to them. Chances are high that my loot already got handed off to a “clean” account, and even if it didn’t, banning the offending account will just make them buy another and do it again.
After asking around in well known PVP communities, I’ve learned that not only is this hack still in existence, but people pay monthly to use it. It even has a cute nickname in the PVP community. Not just that, but people have tried fruitlessly to report it to Funcom over and over again over the past year or so since I first saw it happen. And yet to this day, it is still in existence.
Any time someone comes to the forums looking for answers as to why something odd happened, where loot disappeared or things were destroyed before the timer should have allowed it, they get immediately dismissed as either being mistaken, or it being some kind of bug. How many of those people were legitimately targeted by a hack of some kind, I wonder? Since unless I had seen this occur before my very eyes, I’d probably be one of those people thinking it was a mistake.
This long history of inaction by Funcom further exacerbates the issue, because innocent victims of players hacking end up getting frustrated that they get treated just as poorly by Funcom as they did by the hackers, leading them to start looking for ways to cheat as well. Violence begets violence begets violence can be replaced by cheating begets cheating begets cheating.
Why would these people stop cheating when the stakes for them are so low, and yet the stakes for the victims are so high? They know full well that even if they get caught, the damage will have been done and tons of their victims real life time will have been destroyed with no chance of getting it returned by those that have the power to do so.
What’s the solution to this problem? I don’t know. Being more proactive about fixing these sorts of things would be a start, because allowing such an absolutely game breaking hack to exist for this long is inexcusable. I’ve been the victim of this one in specific twice now. Thankfully, the first time, the server was rolled back to fix it. But since then, the cheaters have gotten smarter. They do it slowly, over days, instead of hitting everyone in one night, so that they know a rollback won’t be possible.
How many legitimate players need to be lost before it becomes a wakeup call?