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YahooNews: Full Coverage

2001-01-31 11:22:00 [Filed by Arcadian Del Sol]
Long before every home computer sold with its own internet account, there were nationwide (and continent-wide) networks of 486SX machines that would telephone one another in the wee dawn hours to exchange new data. We had email, but the turnaround was about as fast as the Postal Service. You just didn't have to lick a stamp. At the heart of every bulletin board were three major components: discussion threads, downloadable files, and multiplayer games.

It has been almost thirty years since those 600 baud days when downloading a four page document meant going to bed and printing it out in the morning, but one thing has remained with us as technology grew and the SysOp Generation turned adults, and continues to boggle the minds of those who believe that honesty is indeed the best policy: Cheaters.

Those of us who remember playing Global War on bulletin boards remember how frustrating it was to learn that the two remaining opponents in your game were actually one player, and that you had no chance of winning. A friend of mine programmed an official Global War Editor Utility that allowed a policing SysOp to demolish cheaters in their games, or even recreate games when they became too far damaged by exploitation. We both had a no tolerance policy for cheaters: If you cheated, your accounts were deleted and your phone number would be blocked. The logs would show that these banned cheaters would continue to call day after day, checking to see if they could again connect to the service and cheat their way atop the various game ladders.

Fast forward to the age of online internet frag-festivus. Team Fortress Strategic Command staffer MisterTea has written a review/rant/warning about a fast spreading utility known as "TFC Speed Hack". According to those who have witnessed this hack in action, you can literally tap the up arrow on your keyboard and you are instantly on the other side of the map. You can fire slow-loading shotguns like .50 caliber belt-fed automatics. You can run, jump, shoot, hide, and heal with alarming speed. The hack raises the windows clock speed allowing any locally run software to operate much faster than it should. It makes one virtually indestructible and unbeatable. It also bakes your computer like a slice of Texas toast. You can almost smell the ozone as cheaters appeared on most every online Team Fortress server on the internet, and then quickly seemed to vanish overnight. In an attempt to thwart the cheat, some sites have added a laundry list of viruses bent on the elimination of the hackers. The ironic justice is that the very tool these losers are using to claim victory will be their undoing. And I find that just great. Why? Because these people will never change. There is no redemption for those who live life with the end being the justification for the means. They cannot be reformed. They can only be restrained.

The guy I told you about? The one who wrote the Admin Tool for Global War? His older brother would cheat his own mother out of her last dollar, and he felt no remorse, regret, or shame about it. For him, there were only winners and losers, and he was going to do what he had to do to be a winner. Rules didn't apply to him, you see. That is, until he lost his baseball scholarship, and likely ended what most people predicted would have been a serious shot at playing Major League Baseball. Welcome to the world beyond your own, tough guy.

The hack has been spotted mostly on Team Fortress servers, and most of the popular ones have gone private / members only. Given the nature of the hack, it will likely find its way to just about every online game, depending upon the nature of the client. I have no idea how this will (or will not) effect The Big Three.
Just say no to this speed hack, folks. That is, unless you already have your replacement CPU and video card on order.

Discuss: Join me in the forum, but please - no running in the halls.

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