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Punk Buster and the Future of Internet Gaming

10/03/01 by Mike "Despondent" Piotrowski

Clear and Present Cheater

A lot of thoughts ran through my mind when I read the news page at on Tuesday Sept. 25. The statement: "On a sad note to honest players of Counter-Strike and Half-Life mods, we have determined that the current version of PunkBuster cannot be appreciably improved without the direct support of VALVe. We have offered to do business with VALVe on multiple occasions in the way of integrating proven Anti-Cheat technology directly into their games. At this time, we are suspending development of the Half-Life version to focus on game platforms where the developer is willing to support the effort." was like a slap in the face.

Many players and I have dealt with the relentless assault of cheaters in almost every game, and it has always ruined the fun for all those people on that server regardless. Well, all the fun except for the guy who can't hit a barn for his life, but can walk through the map successfully and let his nice little program do the work. I thought my hopes for some sort of semblance of order in online gaming had come to an end, as quickly as it had come.

I had taken a leave from many games for a while. Mainly because of the rampant use of cheats, hacks, and all of the run of the mill annoying players - n00b isnt an insult guys, sorry. Counter-Strike especially was one of the games that I left due to this reason. The unbeatable speed cheat that seemed to never go away, even with revision after revision of netcode, and release after release of patches. So what does one do? One plays Final Fantasy 7 and 8 the whole way through, start a band, dabble with some other non-computer oriented fun, and well after 3 months come back to play the same old things with the same old friends. "You have been kicked from the server: Not Punk Buster Authenticated." What the hell is punkbuster? "Download the Punk Buster client at" Ahhh. Well I liked that server, I don't wanna keep getting booted, ok I'll check this out. Strangely enough I was amazed to read up on punkbuster. I was even more amazed when I did a search for some nice servers and found that over 90% of all the servers that I updated required Punk Buster.

So what does this mean? Well first off, for the most part it eliminated a lot of the common cheats that were associated with HL and CS, that I knew of. But, what was even more astounding was the fact that punkbuster was perhaps the first sign of a unified, mass community movement to end cheating. Such a thing like that never happened in any other community until now. My thoughts of the CS and HL community going to garbage because of rampant cheating are pretty much dissolved. Well were, then Sept. 25 came around.

I was very disappointed when I read that the Punk Buster team was giving up on CS and HL, especially after they have achieved so much. It was shocking to think that a company such as VALVe would not contribute anything necessary to the PB team to continue its efforts, especially after PB has done so much for the community in general by bringing the fun back into the game. Something you would expect any developer to jump on. What saddens me more is that there is a need for those at Punk Buster to go farther, farther with what they have done and beyond their limits because players in the community insist on finding ways around cheat prevention.

But, all of this is past tense isnt it? Shortly after Punk Buster declared that it will not work on HL and CS any longer because of VALVe's lack of support news got out about VALVe and several other companies contacting Punk Buster for its cooperation in making anti-cheat measures for a number of games. It pleases me to see this type of response in the game community. And I am happy and proud for those of the Punk Buster team. Not only have they answered the calls of many gamers out there, they have also started an unprecedented trend. Games for once will be secure, and cheating won't be so fun anymore. The fun will be reserved for those who truly try to play the games and work to achieve "ownage". God I feel old saying that. So here's to the PB team, and all those companies that we know nothing about that are going to be embarking on the future of online gaming. A future where the fun isn't deprived of honest players. Well lets hope for that future anyway.

A last little addition here. Over the last 3 or 4 years cheating has come to fold, there has been a constant gripe about cheaters, and cheats are getting harder and harder to defeat. Ever since the first bots were made for Quake it seems that there is no end to bots and those who use them. I constantly question myself as to why players would use such stupid things. Do you use it to convince others that you are good when you have impressive scores? What I find even more pathetic is how some of these people who use these cheats actually DO think they are "l33t". Sad news is, people are going to find out about those who cheat, and eventually that really cool nick name you got is going to ring synonymous with "llama", and many other 4 to 5 letter words of less taste. So what do you do? Find a new server to burn a new name into stardom? Well do yourself a favor. Get off your ass, and become good like every other player has done in the past. Practice! Because in truth, there are only so many servers that you can play on, and only so many times that you will be able to beat the "system", and people will respect you a whole lot more when you earn your reputation rather then buying it with a 500K download.

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