Hacking EverQuest Part One - The Problem

As hackers have their way on the newest EverQuest servers, Benjamin J. de la Durantaye jumps in game to uncover what exactly is going on and how it is affecting the community.
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One August evening my guild and I had spent several hours working our
way deep into one of the biggest, most complex, and certainly
challenging dungeons of EverQuest's Time-Locked Progression Server. We
had dealt with several trains, a few deaths, and a lot of teamwork. But
we were close to our goal. One of our clerics needed the Singed Scroll
from Overlord Bathezid in Chardok and we were closing in on it. We were
on the verge of getting our first epic cleric in the guild and spirits
were high.

For those of you who may not know what the TLPs of EQ are check out my
article from earlier this year, href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eq/editorials/tlp">Chasing
EverQuest. To summarize it is a
special ruleset server for EverQuest which launched in February with
just the classic game; no expansions enabled. As guilds defeat certain
content a vote is activated and anyone playing on the server who is
level 30 or above can vote to unlock the next expansion.

So on this August night we had set ourselves the goal of getting one of
our clerics their epic piece. With this quest complete it would allow
our cleric to rez our members without the high mana cost, so it meant a
lot less down time during raids which in EQ is a huge deal. So there we
were, deep in Chardok, with no competition at the time. We could taste
victory. We pulled the last few mobs in our way, and then started
buffing for the encounter.

Suddenly a group of 8 characters appeared right in front of us. Before
we had a chance to ask any questions the group ran ahead, pulled all
three bosses on top of our raid and poofed out of existence. We fought
valiantly, but without being fully prepared we fell. It was a wipe.
Lucky for us we had managed to save a rezzer from the train, so after
things looked safe again we began rezzing our raid. Then, again, this
mysterious group of 8 suddenly appeared in front of us, and began
killing the targets we were setting up for.

As you can imagine, the guild started becoming a tad anxious. "What the
hell is he doing?" my members asked. We tried more communications with
the group, at which the only response was another train, and then poof!
the players disappeared into oblivion again. Recovery at that point was
no walk in the park as our safety net had been killed in the next
train. As I tried to get things organized for the corpse recovery I
watched the group of 8 kill the rest of the bosses we were after and
then magically disappear again.

We finished our rezzes and teleported the raid out and called it a
night. Sure, we had wasted several hours of the night to come out empty
handed but the real frustration felt was that all of our efforts were
botched by a hacker. We fought our way down legitimately and this guy
who we suspected was boxing all 8 characters due to synchronized
movement and casting, was able to simply warp in, train us until we
were no longer competition, and warp back out to safety.

Hacking by use of third party programs has become an epidemic in our
online world of Norrath. We even had one of our main tanks decide he no
longer wanted to be a part of the guild so one night he trained our
raid, warped out, and disbanded from the guild. I have to hand it to
that guy though--might as well go out with a bang.

and unofficial
forums for the game are filling up with
complaints of hackers. Rare mobs that only spawn once every 24 hours
are being href="http://forums.station.sony.com/eq/posts/list.m?topic_id=178701">de-spawned
by these folk before they even render fully in
game, preventing legitimate players from completing quests (where
they've sat for days on end waiting for the NPC to spawn). Guilds are
being beaten down by unfair competition.  Some even go so far
as having scripts set up to href="http://www.fippydarkpaw.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1334">automatically
warp dozens of shadow knights
on top of a contested spawn as soon as it spawns and death touch it,
downing it within milliseconds - without anyone actually at the

Sadly, this sort of behavior has become common on the TLPs. Competitive
guilds cannot compete against computer scripts, so some have chosen to
fight hacks with more hacks, leading to an automated battle of computer
vs. computer where the end user may or may not even be watching. The
feeling among many is that these hackers have largely gone
undisciplined by Sony Online Entertainment, so what's stopping anyone
from cheating?

In an effort to swing things back to a positive community, however,
some end-game players decided to put a stop to the hacking at least
within their own guilds. href="http://www.fippydarkpaw.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1472&p=16359">Leaders
and officers were demoted or removed
from the guild and efforts were made to reach out to the rest of the
community to say "hey! We're not hacking anymore!"

In a fundamentally socially dependent game, not seen in most modern
titles, community policing and player reputation were paramount to
success within the game... at least back in 1999. However today with
more advanced technology which enables even the most modest computers
to run multiple instances of the game these elements have been made
largely obsolete. When a player can run their own boxed group, or in
some cases href="http://www.fippydarkpaw.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=1555">even
guilds, reputation has no consequence. As the game is
also maturing past the 12-year mark, its popularity has suffered which
in turn means a decline in resources SOE can put into customer service
staff. With these limited resources players may feel that community
policing has become an uphill battle with no chance of victory in sight.

So what can be done? Check out Part Two of our
three-article series as Ten Ton Hammer talks to
Sean "Rogean" Norton and "Haynar" of href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/features/everquest/nostalgia">Project
1999 fame to see what
they've done on an emulated server to combat their own onslaught of

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our EverQuest Game Page.

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