What to do when you start a new game with a cheater?


#1

Curious what you guys do when you run into a player that is blatantly cheating from the start. I recently started a game (https://np.ironhelmet.com/game/6458614396223488) over the weekend, and right at the start of the game (tick 0) the cheating player (pink) got 9 econ / 5 ind / 5 sci + 5 carriers.

Obviously just doing the math means:
9 econ (minus the 5 base) = 12 + 14 + 16 + 25 = 67
5 sci (minus the 1 base) = 100 + 114 + 133 + 145 = 492
5 carriers (minus the 1 base) = 4*25 = 100
in total 659 credits, which is of course more than the initial 500 credit start (he added a bunch more to infrastructure investments before the first payday which I didnt bother to record)

As expected on tick 47 the green player (which I suspect is the feeder account) went afk. When green went afk his stats were 5 econ / 5 ind / 1 sci and 1 carrier.

So now the game is ruined, since there is the cheating player who is now out producing everyone else with a huge sci and industry lead.

I guess my question to the community is - when you run into situation like this, what do you do? Do you slug it out anyways knowing that this was an uneven game from the start and be a knowing participant to play the role of the cheater’s punching bag the whole game? or do you just call it bad luck and just concede and join a new game without wasting anymore time?

It just sucks since this was a weekend game and it actually started on a time that worked out for me (and not something silly like in the middle of the night).

Suggestion to the developer: Perhaps only allow trading after the first payday? Because honestly, there is nothing to trade anyways before then and leaving it open only makes it easy for cheaters to gain an advantage via tick 0 gifts of credits. I understand the possibility to cheat is still there on tick 24, but at least its not as detrimental and could be easier to catch up.


#2

Contact some of the other players and form an alliance, then take him out…
The alliance need only be temporary.


#3

tried the “alliance vs the cheater” thing. Everyone agreed at first then quickly fell apart after a cycle or two since some players in my game would rather side with the winning cheater to guarantee 2nd or 3rd place finish.

Couldnt tell if its just inexperienced player in my game or if the cheater is actually running a 3rd or 4th account in the same game.


#4

I find most people who cheat are quite bad at the game. It’s not an exact correlation but it’s pretty high. This isn’t to say cheating isn’t a problem, just an amusing anecdote.

Anyway, I double checked your calculations and they are spot on. Note that $659 is a lower bound, he probably transferred the full $500 from the other account so had $1000 to spend. He only bought 1 industry (+$25) that cycle so he probably made mistakes when he bought stuff.

In Premium only games it’s a bit better since most people who buy a subscription don’t cheat. You still have people who go AFK, but I don’t think I’ve seen a premium cheater yet.

Pretty much this. Try to team up first, as Karmadrome says, if that doesn’t work out just tell everyone you are quitting and explain why.

In your game you were doubly unlucky because the cheater had two empires which were close to each other. In many cases the feeding empire ends up helping other players more than the cheater because stars are better in the long run than a little extra credits.

First day trading is really easy to detect. If you disable first-cycle trading it would be harder to notice cheaters.

One potential fix would be a public event when one player sends a stupid amount of money to another player. Something like: At the end of a cycle if you transfered more than 50% of your income in that cycle then a public event is created which lists your total outgoing transfers and who they went to.

I can’t think of a single time when this would be detrimental to the game. It would give events for cheaters, and it would give events for nearly-dead empires donating their money to an ally. This second case is already pretty obvious and not really something which people hide.


#5

Can you post the alias of the cheater and the feeder account and I will kick them.

Edit: Never mind, I can see who it is :slight_smile:


#6

Thanks Jay, would definitely even the game out if the cheater gets kicked. So far the cheater is still in the game, so for the time being I’ll wait for you to kick him =)

I actually like AnnanFay’s idea very much regarding a public announcement when player sends over 50% of income that cycle. Most cheaters are usually shady players who are bad but dont want people to find out about it. A public announcement would definitely deter the behavior, and at worse all the other players in the game openly knows if something is going on.

Of course tick 0 there is no income, so any amount of fund transfer (even $1) before tick 24 will trigger the public message as well. I truly hope the developer implement this feature as it will definitely be liked by all players (except the ones who are/have been cheating of course)


#7

Glad you like my idea :slight_smile: Though I meant for the events to be triggered at cycle end. So you wouldn’t know about it until tick 24. It’s an easier change to the game if you put it all in the end-of-cycle logic, and, like you say, avoids the issue of low income on time zero.


#8

I’ll put this feature on the to-do list.

I think the hardest part will be warning people they will be kicked if they send too much.

Perhaps a more fair method would be to simply block people from sending more than half their income in the first place.


#9

I agree with @AnnanFay . There are players who do not want to put in the effort to become better at strategy games. It is those lazy players who think it is simply easier to cheat by this method.

@jayKyburz , since AI takes over AFK empires after two or three turns or cycles, I suggest that the first turn should block 75 % of starting cash, the second turn should block 50 % of starting cash, and the third turn should block 25 % of starting cash. Each blockage should be accompanied by the warning message. Maybe this could discourage this type of cheating. If the cheater player gives up and goes AFK, much of the cheating cash is blocked, and the AI takes over the AFK empire.


#10

Heh, where did automatically kicking people from games come from? My idea is just to have a public event which warns people about large cash transfers :confused:


#11

I think instead of kicking people the better idea would be to just place a max amount possible like Jay proposed. 50% of total income that round sounds like a decent spot, and if one doesnt transfer it the quota gets reset next round, and therefore its not cumulative. This should allow some flexibility in funding your allies in times of need without creating an obvious loophole for the cheaters.

In regards to the public message to all players, maybe set a limit so if its something like 0-24.9% of income transferred there is no public message, and if its 25%-50% it’ll send some kind of message at the end of cycle like “player x has paid tribute to player y” or “player x has made a generous gift to player y” without declaring the amount transferred.


#12

I think setting a limit on transfers might cause problems. I would rather there were tools to let people know when weird stuff happens, rather than have restrictions on play style to try to prevent cheating.

For instance, when mostly destroyed you can create an embassy star in an allies empire and still help them by paying 100% of your income every cycle. Some people don’t like this tactic while others are fine with it. Having a 50% transfer limit basically destroys this play style.

Also someone is proposing 2v2 and 3v3 tournaments. Should there be special rules to allow higher than 50% transfers for these games? Are we going to need special rules for different game modes? Will it become a setting when configuring games so people can have custom games without the restriction?

My main point is, I think, adding a hard limit is going to have unintended consequences while having a public event is less likely to cause problems.


#13

Ha, sorry, just thinking ahead.

A public event is good, but the game is still kind of broken after its done.


#14

Having a hard cap (like 50% for example) definitely balances the game out more. Keep in mind the fast rate of return on econ, having a lump sum boost from another player continuously for a few turns can quickly turn the tide of battle. I’ve been in some games where I’ve been behind (or lost interest) and decided to just feed cash to the strongest player in our alliance, and in just a few cycle it quickly snowballs to the point where even I felt its a bit unbalanced.

Obviously if one is in an alliance having a hard cap like 50% further promotes distributing your cash to 2 - 3 players instead of just 1 super strong player. I feel in NP once a player gains a lead over the others it can quickly snowball to the point where its unstoppable.