Unbeaten for 55 games?

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Postby Robjess » Thu Jun 11, 2009 6:11 pm

For the record, no one was sworn to any secrecy about this topic. It was decided that it was pointless talking about it for the following reasons:

- No one can prove for certainty that anyone cheated. Not even SSG at that time.

- The only person who knows for sure if the person in question. He has stated publically that he didnt cheat, and without any evidence to the contrary; he needs to be given the benefit of the doubt. Dont throw figures at me or anyone else.. as statistics dont prove anything, they can suggest something but they dont prove anything.

- Since that time, in the more recent games SSG have introduced code and provisions within the game which does allow them to confirm whether any cheating has occured.

- Tournament games are now subject to random auditing by SSG.

- The only embargo that may have been placed on discussing this topic was imposed because the discussion, inuendo and accusations were doing the community no good and it was having a negative impact. So we ask that the topic be dropped so that we call focus back on the fun side of things.

- If someone want to cheat at something they probably can find a way - no matter what it is in life. There isnt much I or anyone else can do about it.. but the steps SSG have taken in their most recent games should go along way to making this harder to do.

Welcome to the forums - but I think we would all prefer if we didnt raise this issue again.. it has no benefit..
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Postby stevel40831 » Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:18 pm

I was one of the people who was in the middle of this mess when it was going on a couple of years back. It was this controversy and the lack of information about it that caused me to drift away from the series. I probably had more games constantly going on than anyone here and spent an absurd amount of time playing. I have no interest in rehashing all the foolishness but I would say that the top-secret nature of what may have happened has always puzzled me.

I think I've pretty much played every good player here and won many games and lost a few, but even my losses against the other good players were usually tense matches and would come down to the last few turns. I haven't looked over my record in quite a while but I think that 1/2 of my losses were to Fantassin and they were always very very ugly ones... I never even came close to a draw as far as I can remember and came away from every game more puzzled than the last.

Anyway, I lurk here but rarely post... couldn't resist the urge on this subject as it was the reason that I lost interest.

SteveL40831

"A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in ... And how many want out."

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Postby Robjess » Mon Jun 15, 2009 6:23 pm

Steve I lurk but rarely post (which sounds odd coming from me) also. I dont know if there was anything 'top secret' about this episode. Well not from my perspective anyway.. accusations were made, they were presented to SSG.. there was no sure way (at that time) to prove anything - not withstanding what any evidence may have suggested.. someone is considered innocent until proven otherwise, it couldnt be proven.

You know it was this incident where these forums lost their innocence I think,, everything was roses up until that point.. and yes it did have a major impact on the forums.. I dont think they have been the same since.. many 'big' players (you and me for example) in the series moved on.. (I had kids and ended up with a job which didnt allow me to spend the time that I used to spend on here were also factors for me)..

I miss what these forums used to be like.. its a shame..
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Postby enric » Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:05 pm

someone is considered innocent until proven otherwise, it couldnt be proven.


This is not the problem Robjess, the question is: Are these game vulnerable to trick?
And the mother's question should be: why SSG did not make a patch?
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Postby Robjess » Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:52 pm

Its software - of course its vulnerable. For 99% of the population - for pepole like me - no its not an issue. I dont have the tools, skills, capabilty to hack the software or code. But more importantly I dont want to - I have no inclination either if I did have the capability. I think most people here are the same. Even if you can or know how to cheat why would you bother?

But getting back to your question .. any software is vulnerable to exploits if some one wants to do it. Heck, if someone like Microsoft with the millions of dollars they invest cant safe guard their software, then how could we realistically expect SSG (who have one full time programer) be able to ensure it.
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Postby Guest » Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:03 am

Robjess wrote:...any software is vulnerable to exploits if some one wants to do it. Heck, if someone like Microsoft with the millions of dollars they invest cant safe guard their software, then how could we realistically expect SSG (who have one full time programer) be able to ensure it.


Honestly, but I think this is disingenious nonsense.

Offhand, I can think of two other popular wargames that never had PBEM security problems, not even a hint of problems as far as I know - namely, the Combat Mission series and the HPS games put out by John Tiller.

I am aware that whenever a player's turn consists of multiple phases, which is often the case in operational or strategic level games, the issue of PBEM security can be perplexing.

(Before someone points it out, I know the turn sequence of the Combat Mission series is designed in such a way so as to preclude cheating. But then again, these games were specifically designed with PBEM in mind, the key word being designed.

As far as the HPS games are concerned, since I haven't learned them yet, I can't comment on them specifically, but I do know that the opportunity fire phases of each player's turn become optional in PBEM games, in order to cut the number of file exchanges per turn in half, but either way it's played I have not heard of anyone compromising those games' security either.

Both of these series of games have been in existence for 10 years now, with nary a hint of problems concerning PBEM security.)

So I think enric is correct when he says that an existing loophole or backdoor, if one exists, should be patched if possible.
If the basic design of the game precludes a fix by a patch, well then that design is faulty and, frankly, I'm starting to think this is the case, barring some other evidence.
Last edited by Guest on Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby hank » Tue Jun 16, 2009 3:18 am

This is an enlightening thread. I played pbem quite a bit back when KP first came out and continued on after BiN hit the streets. Then I drifted away for a while for personal reasons and other gaming interests. I read a post either here or at Matix a week or so ago with a very small comment that the SSG ladder wasn't being used any more. I wondered why ... it was fun watching my Losses pile up with the occassional W being posted.

Now I know. I missed all that mess. Now I feel like I missed a good party. Thanks for the education.
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Postby Joe » Tue Jun 16, 2009 8:35 am

AllTempaCheer wrote:So I think enric is correct when he says that an existing loophole or backdoor, if one exists, should be patched if possible.



In my opinion there is no loophole.

You should play a secure PBEM game yourself. If you start the game on one PC you cannot complete it on a different PC. This means more security tha any other game.

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Postby Roger Keating » Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:53 am

On security ....

There is no absolute security that can be applied to any piece of software. Rob is correct in pointing to the Microsoft experience where there is daily scanning of events to see if some person has developed another method of exploiting the code. Of course there is the OS option .. can anyone say Vista ...

The current PBEM security system is about as good as we can make it to guarantee that games between reasonable people are conducted without the desire to maybe repeat an attack or look at the disposition of the opponents forces. To defeat the PBEM system takes real effort .. an effort that we hope discourage those who play our games for fun.

There are ways to improve the system, and we have experimented with these, which require the game to be played while hooked up to a high speed Internet connection. A number of servers would be required in this event which means expense and an allocation of non existant resources. This would also make the games a little more difficult to play as laptops would be essentially out. If this system where implemented then security could be classified as around 99% effective. A hacker who intimately understood the Internet and knew how to manipulate the code could still manage it, although it would be extremely difficult.

At SSG we have to look at what we are capable of supplying in our current state. We want the games to be enjoyable and provide the level of security that make games a delight to play. We feel that we achieve that goal. We are constantly patching the game to fix small problems. In the current development of Husky a couple of problems have appeared related to AI ships bombarding and this has been fixed and will be available before the scenario comes out. The complexities of any code means that we have to assume that there are always going to be problems that we must deal with, at least until our God certificates come through.

Discussing security measures usually ends up in very few things that we can implement and just points to the problems of any security system.

I just hope that people enjoy the games and continue playing them and designing alternate scenarios. I also enjoy reading the Moscow articles and others in the chat thread which always get me started, with a cup of coffee, in the morning.
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Postby Chris Merchant » Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:04 pm

AllTempaCheer,

I would like to correct your statement above where you say that HPS games have 'no hint' of cheating problems.

HPS games have always had a very lax anti-cheat system.

This is acknowledged recently by official dev team member Glenn Saunders in a response to a customer's comment:

Having said that, there are things I wish PzC had - WEGO being foremost amongst them, closely followed by secure PBEM games.
There are others, but those two are far and away the most important to me.
WEGO I don't really ever expect to see in this series, to my sorrow, but the continued lack of secure PBEM is baffling to me.


Glenn responds:

John is reluctant to expend additional time on this as the feeling is,
if people want to cheat they will find ways to do so.


And I cite:

http://www.theblitz.org/message_boards/ ... #pid250277

The Kharkov engine has one of the best secure systems in the business but I agree with others who have commented that there are always going to be ways for individuals with particular talents to circumvent most systems.

Perhaps you could let us know what your own experience has been using the Kharkov engine.

cheers Chris


AllTempaCheer wrote:
Robjess wrote:...any software is vulnerable to exploits if some one wants to do it. Heck, if someone like Microsoft with the millions of dollars they invest cant safe guard their software, then how could we realistically expect SSG (who have one full time programer) be able to ensure it.


Honestly, but I think this is disingenious nonsense.

Offhand, I can think of two other popular wargames that never had PBEM security problems, not even a hint of problems as far as I know - namely, the Combat Mission series and the HPS games put out by John Tiller.

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Postby Joe » Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:39 pm

Chris Merchant wrote:Perhaps you could let us know what your own experience has been using the Kharkov engine.



And the discussion at the time was under the Battles in Italy engine.

In every way Kharkov is so much better.

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Postby Guest » Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:12 am



I stand corrected.

I'm looking at the ladder statistics at The Blitz and there are about a half-dozen individuals whose statistics I would perhaps indeed find "suspicious" (not counting the ones who've only played a few games).
One guy has a Win/Loss/Draw record of 59/1/0 and another guy has a record of 29/1/2 playing the HPS games.
I have to admit that I've never taken a close look at the statistic over there until now.
So it seems the HPS games might be suffering from similar loopholes/workarounds/cheats.

So I'll let the reader be the judge of whether I now have egg on my face, although I would point out that I stated earlier that often the only way to effectively deal with suspected cheaters is to simply boycott them.

It is the simple fact that a 55/0 record stands out like a sore thumb that finally compelled me to start this thread, after lurking for many years.

Perhaps you could let us know what your own experience has been using the Kharkov engine.

As the previous poster pointed out, the subject of discussion is the DB engine, in particular the 6-year-old KP game.
As I stated in my very first post, the only games I have are KP and Battlefont. I don't know why you folks always get so defensive about these things.
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Postby Chris Merchant » Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:31 am

I don't know why you folks always get so defensive about these things.


Well, I think it's important to point out to yourself and other readers that this game has some of the best security of any igo-ugo PBEM game system.

The secure system has evolved since the heady days of The Ardennes Offensive (when there was none!) and I am sure feedback given in this forum to SSG has helped later iterations achieve better security.

So when you ask for things to be patched, can you give us and SSG some specific examples or suggestions on where it can be further improved.

There are only minor differences between the Battlefront and Kharkov engines with the secure code so you could use your experiences with Battlefront as a basis for your feedback in future.

cheers Chris [/quote]
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Postby Joe » Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:53 am

AllTempaCheer wrote:So it seems the HPS games might be suffering from similar loopholes/workarounds/cheats.


Because there aren’t any in SSG's games!

The controversy at the time was whether a clever computer programmer could manipulate the dice roll.

In some situations, all you need to do is bowl a 1 to achieve the desired result.

A game was in progress and the players were writing an AAR. One player was attacking and bowling lots of dice.

The theoretical dice roll average is 3.5

Where he needed to bowl a:

1 or better he bowled a 1 ( and at least one 6 IIRC which has a huge effect on the average)
2 or better he bowled a 2 or better
3 or better he bowled a 3 or better
4 or better he bowled a 4 or better
IIRC, he never “had” to bowl a 5 or 6

His average was 3.5

Somebody decided to calculate the odds of achieving those results and decided there was something fishy. They ignored that on at least one occasion he “needed” a 1 and bowled a 6 thereby skewing the average.

I never thought there was anything fishy.

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Postby Noakesy » Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:42 pm

...I'm sure I'm not the first one who's thinking this Cheery line of enquiry sounds very familiar... :wink: :lol:
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