Author Topic: Economic Effects of Cheating  (Read 1243 times)

May 04, 2018, 11:46:33 AM

Offline Evolution

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Economic Effects of Cheating

In any computer system as complex as the UO server, there are bound to be bugs. Hundreds of subscribers beat on the system 24 hours a day which ensures that they will find bugs quickly and exploit them for personal gain. For example, counterfeiting was rampant for the first several months due to an obscure bug which allowed gold to be cloned at will. The resulting inflationary effect was extremely damaging in the early months of UO

Cheating is, of course, a significant problem in any game be it football, poker, or Super Mario. However, the effects are greatly amplified in online games because of the remarkable ability of players to organize their communications. For example, an Google search for "Ultima Online" finds almost 8000 web pages, most of them built by fans. Many of these web pages document the inner workings of UO in great detail (in fact, the developers sometimes refer to these user-created document because they are often more up-to-date than internal documents!). Thus, when an exploitable bug such as gold counterfeiting is discovered it is just a matter of hours before every subscriber is aware of the cheat. Unfortunately, the small team maintaining the server code is always out-manned – there’s thousands of players and often only one programmer who understands the code well enough to fix it. Therefore the server can never be fixed as fast as it can be exploited. This is "Hacker’s Law" – exploits will always be found faster than fixes.

UO Evolution runs in to this situation more than most servers, we add new content every week and have to anticipate every possible use or outcome of adding an item or making a change.