Hacking and Botting In Maplestory Private Servers
No matter where you go and what you do, you will always find some people who are trying to get ahead by cheating. Maplestory Private Servers are no different – people try to hack, bot, and scam their way to millions of mesos. In this post I want to talk about hacking and botting, what can be done to combat them, and how they should be punished.
The difference between Hacking and Botting
Before we go further it is important to establish that there is a sharp difference between hacking and botting. Hacking involves manipulation of maplestory game files whereas botting does not.
A botter uses some sort of program (or even paper weight) to send inputs to maplestory. These inputs are the exact same inputs that any human is capable of producing. The only difference is that the inputs were not generated by a human being, but by a program.
An example would include someone having a program that manually trains at a certain map – like a bot for a cleric that spams heal at ghost ship 2.
Hacking on the other hand relies on actually changing game files to gain an advantage. For example, one could go into their .wz files and modify a file that contains the skill damage multiplier for their class. They could increase it so that they do more damage in game. This would be an example of hacking.
What is worse between hacking and botting?
I think that it is agreeable that both hacking and botting are bad to maintain a competitive maplestory private server, and both need to be punished.
However, I assert that hacking is the greater crime of the two for one simple reason:
A legitimate player could accomplish the exact same thing that a botter does by simply playing the same amount of time a botter is botting. However, a legitimate player could not accomplish the same thing that a hacker does in the same amount of time.
A hacking player has a distinct, unfair game advantage over a legitimate player. The hacking player can increase their damage, move speed, generate items, etc. whereas the botting player has the same exact limitations as the legitimate player.
Furthermore, it is a lot easier to distinguish between a legitimate player and a hacker than it is to distinguish between a botter and a legitimate player.
What should be done about Hacking and botting?
I think that if someone is caught hacking, they should immediately be issued a permanent ban – though not necessarily a permanent ban as a player unless the hacking was especially egregious.
However, I do not think botting should be punished in and of itself. The reason is that it is pretty much impossible to distinguish between someone who is intelligently botting + present at their computer and someone who is legitimately playing.
By intelligently botting I mean someone using a bot that isn’t obviously a bot. For example, randomized movement patterns, attacks, etc – something that mimics a real human very well.
Since it’s impossible to realistically catch intelligent botters, I suggest doing something different.
Change Botting to “Robotic / Unresponsive Play”
Essentially, instead of making botting a bannable offense, make it bannable to play in a “robotic / unresponsive” manner. This means that basically if a player attempts to get a response from you, and you choose to not respond at all, you should get banned because there is a chance you are botting.
Any legitimate player would certainly be able to respond to a game master or fellow player given sufficient time – say 2 minutes.
Adding a report command
One of the ways that botters and hackers get caught is via player reports. Players manually report individuals they believe to be cheating to game administrators, then the administrators do some checking to see if the people reported were actually cheating and give out the appropriate punishment.
An idea I have is to add a report command to the game. For example, players could do /report “player name”. After issuing this command, the maplestory private server can enable additional logging information on the reported player. For example, they could log their position, items looted, inventory, and other things that would be far too resource intensive to log for the entire community for a short period of time.
Publicly stating when players are banned
Although this does not directly stop players from cheating or get assist in catching cheaters, it does create social pressure that prevents some players from cheating.
If your playerbase is aware that cheaters get caught and permanently banned, they would be less likely to take the risk of hacking if they know administrators are actively punishing cheaters.
Rewarding players who provide true reports
Another idea is to incentivize the community to police the server as whole. By giving nx cash or meso rewards to players who report cheaters, you create an environment where players are more likely to report cheaters. As a result, more cheaters get caught and the server becomes a cleaner place to play.
People will always try to cheat in order to get ahead – even in a maplestory private server. As server owners or players, you should try to do the best you can to report such individuals.