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UOHoC IRC Chat Log! 6/28/06 Topic: PunkBuster

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Queen Mum

Queen Mum

    A Cookie A Day Keeps The Blues Away!!!

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Thank you to Stratics UOHoC for hosting what we hope is the first of many chats to come on this important issue ...


Session Start: Wed Jun 28 19:01:24 2006

* Calelena: 'Welcome to tonight's Ultima Online House of Commons chat! Tonight's topic is PunkBuster. So please keep your questions to this topic. Send all your questions to [QT]Elm

WilkiEA: MrTact is having technical difficulties. He'll be here shortly, just as soon as he figures our this whole newfangled "IRC" thing.

Calelena: Welcome to another great Stratics house of commons with the developers of Ultima Online! Tonight's topic is PunkBuster . So please keep your questions to this topic.

Calelena: Please send those questions to [QT]Elm - to do so type /msg [QT]Elm My question here. Please only send questions to our QT's as those sent to myself or the developers will not make it into the lineup.

Calelena: The full logs will be posted on http://uo.stratics.com after the chat. We'll begin with a quick intro from our guests...now would be a good time to send in those questions!

Draconi: Hi! I'm Draconi, one of UO's designers. I'm 24, male, single, and I enjoy long walks in the park, reading novels, playing the piano, and UO. My favorite color is blue, I love ramen, and *WilkiEA thwacks you* and, I'm glad to see everyone here tonight!

MrTact: Uh, yeah.

Ando: Hello, I'm Ando. Lead QA Tester :P

MrTact: I'm MrTact. I am the Lead Designer of UO . . . as far as you know, heh heh heh

purpleturtle: Hi! I'm the girl with the turtles. I bought some shrimp for my tank

WilkiEA: Hi, I'm Wilki, the UO Community Coordinator. Great to see all of you here!

MostlyHarmless: I am MostlyHarmless, software engineer on UO

[PBSTAFF]Micah: Hello all. I'm Micah and the developer responsible for doing the integration work required to get PunkBuster in Ultima Online. I am an employee of Even Balance, the makers of the PunkBuster system, and my primary responsibility is new game integrations. I'm glad that you all have invited me to join in your chat this evening.

Calelena:
  • *Franklin* What is the EA/Punkbuster team doing to combat the negative stereotype of PB being a "spyware" program?
WilkiEA: There are lots of rumors floating around about PunkBuster and how it will work with UO. Darkscribe, the UO Producer, has been posting notes on uo.com in response to some of these...
WilkiEA: And UOForums has an excellent Q&A with Tony Ray, the founder of PunkBuster. You can read that here:
WilkiEA: http://www.uoforums....ad.php?p=149449
WilkiEA: We'll continue to talk to the UO community about this over the next few months, so please feel free to
post your comments.

Calelena:
  • *DJSpyderBite* Can you confirm one way or the other whether Siege will be the PB-Free shard? The community's biggest fear is that you'll permit character transfers. This will absolutely devistate the community on Siege Perilous when all the cheaters come over with millions in gold and items. Not to mention, it will kill the existing PvP community.. Its tough enough to deal with the few speed hackers as it is, much less 1000 more dumped on our shard.
MrTact: The answer to your actual question is no, we can't confirm one way or the other right now.
MrTact: We're still exploring our options.
MrTact: I will say that using Siege and Mugen is under consideration.
MrTact: As for destroying the community . . . obviously that's a concern that we're factoring into our decision.
MrTact: There's no way we could make Siege/Mugen the non-PB shards and NOT have an impact in some way.
MrTact: We are weighing those concerns very carefully . . . but like I said, we have no definitive answer right
now.

Calelena:
  • *TheMiner* anyway my first quesion is this... i do infact have certain programs on my system that would get me "busted" but is it true that if theyre arent running while i am playing that I CANNOT be busted for just having them.. i read it somewhere but dont remember where
[PBSTAFF]Micah: The PunkBuster system will in general only raise a violation when it detects a cheat program
actively running in memory
[PBSTAFF]Micah: If the cheat program is simply on your harddrive and not active at the time that you are running
the PunkBuster enabled client, you most likely will not raise a violation
[PBSTAFF]Micah: There are times, however, that catching a cheat requires detection of a certain file or
manipluated game asset
[PBSTAFF]Micah: in this case, a violation may be raised
[PBSTAFF]Micah: Your best bet, of course, is to not have the cheat anywhere on your system ;-)

Calelena:
  • *Desperado_SE* question for the devs: who will determine the banning? PB or EA?
MrTact: EA will.

Calelena:
  • *DJNicolasKannan* I would like to know the impact on 'acceptable' 3rd party assist programs such as UOAssist and UOAuto Map
MrTact: None. They're legal now, and PB will not report on them.

Calelena:
  • *Nails31* How much of an effect do they think punkbuster is going to have, Scripters have introduced so much gold into the economy that items have become so overpriced that most normal players can't afford anything?
MrTact: Our hope is that PB will make a significant dent into the "script kiddie" population, which should free up our resources to deal with the more serious portion of the cheating problem.
MrTact: Obviously, scripting has had a negative impact on UO's economy. This troubles us, and PB is the first step in the direction of getting things cleaned up.

Calelena:
  • *glbanksitter* Hi! My question is "When will the testing phase for PunkBuster begin, and will it be an application only type thing or will it be available to anyone and everyone who wants to try it out?"
Ando: Testing from an internal standpoint has already begun onPunkBuster
Ando: We are hoping to open up testing into a beta program in the near future (though I don't have a date for you at the moment)
Ando: There will be future announcements about this on UO.com I'm sure
Ando: And yes, we would like to make testing available to everyone when we get to a stage where things are ready to do that

Calelena:
  • *TamerCat* One of my many questions is...Are you plaining on letting people transfer to the non Punkbuster server? Or will you make it so no one will be able to go to it. Like if I want to leave the non punkbuster server will I be allowed to do so? And what is the non punkbuster server going to be, if you could say that.
MrTact: Well, first we have to decide which server or servers will be non-PB. That will obviously affect our decision concerning the answer to that question.
MrTact: Our initial thinking is that we might allow players to transfer TO non-PB shards, so they could continue to play the characters they've built up should they choose not to make use of PB.
MrTact: However, it's pretty clear we would not allow characters on non-PB servers to transfer to PB servers . . . except if we were to convert an existing shard, we might allow it for a window of time prior to the full rollout . . . unless maybe we choose Siege to be non-PB.
MrTact: As you can see, it's not a simple question to answer.
MrTact: But we will be evaluating this throughout the beta testing process, and listening to the feedback from the community.

Calelena:
  • *Nixon* Who determines what is a cheat, and what's not? Okay granted, anything thats not UOPro is not acceptable, but will the PB be UO specfic in terms of searching for cheats, but what about txt files which maybe confused with scripts and such?
WilkiEA: We tell PunkBuster which cheats we want them to look for. Text files are not included in the list that we've submitted. We're looking for actively running programs, not text files, etc.

Calelena:
  • *SahraSwift* The PB TOS has parts that are unneeded for PB to work as is, and those parts legitimately bother many people. Could EA negotiate with EB to make the PB TOS something more reasonable, particularly with being more specific in what it reports where and what it can take a screenshot of, and with removing the permission to publish the screenshots? Many players are fine with how PB works, but not with what the TOS makes us agree to
[PBSTAFF]Micah: I'm going to assume that you are actually referring to the PunkBuster EULA (End User License Agreement) and not a TOS. I'm not exactly sure which parts of the EULA you might consider unnecessary for PunkBuster to work, so instead I'll address why the PunkBuster EULA is what it is.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: Essentially, the PunkBuster EULA must be worded such that the agreement you as the user entire into is useful for the purposes of detecting cheats.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: In order to do this, PunkBuster must have the ability to scan all aspects of a users computer. If PunkBuster did not have this ability, a cheater punk would simply write his hack to look like some other
legitimate program.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: This would in essence, render the the PunkBuster system useless.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: We recognize that the PunkBuster EULA is unique in the world of software licenses and so we go to great efforts to make sure that you are well, the user, are well informed of it.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: I can also tell you that EvenBalance has not and never will transmit any personally identifiable material from any of it's users.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: Any information that the PunkBuster client uses is mangled in a one way hash so that upon transmission it is completely meaningless.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: It is even meaningless to the staff here at EvenBalance except that it tells us if a particular cheat was caught or not.

Calelena:
  • *LadyTiger^* will punk buster detect speek hackers?
MrTact: No.
MrTact: However, it will probably detect the third party tools speedhackers use to speedhack.
MrTact: If you can dig the subtle difference there.

Calelena:
  • *DJNicolasKannan* directed to [PBSTAFF]Micah: how is Even Balance dealing with the process blockers currently in use to defeat punk buster on other games? Will the UO version be able to address this?
[PBSTAFF]Micah: I'm not sure exactly what you mean when you say "process blocker", so I'll address some of the ways the PunkBuster defeats cheaters attempts to stop it.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: The PunkBuster system is a client and server architecture. That is to say, there is a component running on the client (your PC) and one running on the UO server. The UO server is in control of the cheat detection process and will from time to time request information from the PunkBuster client. If the client on the other end fails to answer correctly and in a timely manner, PunkBuster will raise a violation.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: Attempts to tamper/block/subvert/spoof PunkBuster communications always result in a violation being raised.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: Sometimes, for a short period of time, a cheat will appear to go undetected. Usually this is during a phase of silent detection.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: Silent detection allows us to ban for a particular cheat all at once instead of catching only a few cheaters.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: So, it is very important if you find a cheat that you think is not being caught by PunkBuster to *not* "test" the cheat.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: You may in fact, unwittingly ban yourself.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: Instead, you can send the cheat to our research email address (research@evenbalance.com) and we will take it from there.

Calelena:
  • *eatingtacos* I would like to say I support use of PB. But my concern and question is whether PB will be effective and whether other measures are planned like capping the amount of resources that can be gathered per account in a day?
MrTact: I think I already spoke to our expectations of the effectiveness of PB, so let me address the other part of your question: solving the problem with game design.
MrTact: This is an option we considered before we made the decision to work with PB. Our feeling is that while this may be the best possible solution, A) it's a vast amount of work and it would take us a very long time to get there, and B) The game might not be UO when we were done.
MrTact: That being said, we will be keeping an eye out to make gameplay less scriptable going forward, and we will consider retrofitting some existing stuff if we feel it's warranted.

Calelena:
  • *QueenMum* Will additional programs be worked in to be recongnized as non cheat programs such as UOWeddings, Trillian? Will UOPro programs be updated to include such items as well?
Draconi: To answer the first question, let's clarify how PB is dealing with programs. Rather than have an exclusive list of pre-approved programs that can be running while UO is open, instead, we provide a list of
programs we *don't* want running. So UOWeddings, Trillian, and other applications won't be affected. Programs we've specifically marked as cheating programs will be.
Draconi: Your second question brings up something we've been discussing: as far as updating the UO Pro program, and adding newer applications to it. The answer is a "maybe"

Calelena:
  • *LordChaos* Is Punkbuster going to detect "bad programs" that actually interact with UO (ie. running and working on the UO window) or "bad programs" just running?
[PBSTAFF]Micah: PunkBuster will detect anything that either the UO team decide is a cheat. I'm not sure how you are differentiating between bad programs that interact with UO and just "bad programs", so I'll restate what I said above.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: If the program is running in active memory and is considered by the UO team to be a cheat, the cheaters will get caught. If the cheaters use a program or tool to interfere with the game play or the normal operation of PunkBuster, they will also be caught.

Calelena:
  • *Trevelyan* Will punkbuster support - or work on - all current systems that UO currently does (such as Windows 95 or Windows XP x64 edition)?
[PBSTAFF]Micah: PunkBuster for UO will be supported on all PC platforms that currently run UO.
MrTact: Which as of UOML is Win98 SE, Win XP (32-bit) and Windows 2000
MrTact: We don't have support for XP 64-bit or Vista yet
MrTact: makes note to talk to team about supporting those OSes soon . .


Calelena:

*Flutter* How will PB work with my present firewall and commercial security system I have in place. My system is pretty tight.

[PBSTAFF]Micah: I'm going to re-phrase the question and hope that I address your concerns in the process. ;-)

"How will PunkBuster work with my current computer security settings?"
[PBSTAFF]Micah: The answer in general is straight-forward: 1. If you are able to connect to a UO server and play, then from a network/firewall stand-point you will be fine.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: 2. In order for the PunkBuster client to be able to access the entire memory space for scanning, you will need to have admin privileges on the computer.

Calelena:
  • *STalKer-X* How will PB integrate with the client? Can it turned on or off within the client or is it a standalone program you need to install? Will PB patches applied with the normal UO patches or is this an extra process? Thanks. :)
MrTact: It is a separate DLL. Right now, if you have the DLL, the client loads it, and you are PB-enabled. If it does not (for example, because it's not installed), then you are not.
MrTact: We have already gotten feedback that it would be nice to be able to turn PB support on and off from within the client, which we are investigating.
MrTact: The PB code updates itself automatically from the PB master server, and so is a separate patching process from the UO client.

Calelena:
  • *Mandrake* A lot of us are concerned about how intrusive PB could be, because of what we agree to in the TOS. How confident is EA that our privacy will be respected? Would an EA employee actually install PB on one of their machines that had UO's source code on it?
Draconi: Well, first off, we do have the utmost confidence that our players' privacy will be respected.
Draconi: Ironically, I actually have PB installed on this very machine, since I play Battlefield 2 :)

MrTact: Yes, but we don't let you have access to any source code :-P

Calelena:
  • *Noxin* Are you concerned by the fact that you may discover that the portion of the UO playerbase that actually "cheats" (under current definition) is a significantly large amount, and do you have any plans to change what the definition of cheating is prior to rolling out PB?
WilkiEA: We've certainly discussed this, as it is a possibility with certain programs that are used with UO. Some programs are just outright cheats, and there is virtually no chance they'd become "legal" to use with UO.
WilkiEA: However, we could decide that another programs aren't particularly bad, and add them to a re-opened UO Pro program (if that happens) and/or remove them from the list of programs that PunkBuster looks for.
WilkiEA: This is something that will shake out during our beta testing, and we're entering this with an open mind.
WilkiEA: Finally, if we see that a certain program is being used for something specific, then we'll take a look at the design and perhaps improve on it.

Calelena:
  • *SahraSwift* If all the PB needs to send is "if a particular cheat was caught or not.", why can't the EULA be phrased to say that instead of openning EB up to send anything they want? And why must we agree to let screenshots be posted?
[PBSTAFF]Micah: The EULA covers all aspects of PunkBuster functionality; not just what is transmitted over the network. The PunkBuster client must be able to scan all memory in all processes so that it doesn't leave any
ungaurded areas.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: Also, regarding PunkBuster screenshots; the PunkBuster client goes through great efforts to make sure a screenshot is only taken if the game is the active window on the screen.
[PBSTAFF]Micah: If it is not determined to be the active window, the screenshot is not taken.

MrTact: Before we close, I feel obliged to point out that we DO let Draconi look at source code. I was just being a wiseguy.

Draconi: ^^

purpleturtle: bye everyone, turtles say bye too

Ando: bye

Calelena: That will wrap it up for tonight. I'd like to thank the developers for coming! The log for tonight's chat will be up shortly on http://uo.stratics.com
Calelena: Thank you all for joining us! You can join #Ultima-Online to chat more about the game.

Draconi: See you everyone!

WilkiEA: Thanks everyone for coming out tonight, we'll be answering more questions on uo.com in the coming weeks and months.







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