In this special edition of our weekly devlog, we’d like to take a moment and ponder the question of how to deal with cheating in Prosperous Universe. Let us know your thoughts!
Martin is on a well-deserved vacation right now, and Michi is chipping away on the same stuff as last week, so the floor is all mine today. Instead of boring you with the usual communication-related busywork I took care of this week, I’d like to address a subject I’ve been dealing with lately: cheaters.
Luckily, there hasn’t been a lot of evidence of people not playing by the rules, but there has been some, and we need to address every case we become aware of. Our terms of service grant us a lot of leeway, but up until now, we haven’t had a clear policy of which violations warrant which punishments. We are still working on it now, and I’d like to give you guys, our community, a chance to weigh in on some of the questions we’re currently asking ourselves.
The most common way of cheating at the moment are multi-accounts. They are rare as far as we can tell (at least the really exploitative ones), but what’s the appropriate punishment for the cases we do find? Should the alt account(s) be deleted without warning? Should the main account be kept intact or at least get COLIQed? What other possible measures could we take besides account deletion and liquidation of a company? And also: How are we to find out which one is the alt? In some cases it’s clear because the main account is just leeching off the alt, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Do we leave it up to the cheater?
Another question is how public these punishments should be. Looking at other games, developers seem to have a wide variety of answers to this question. Many games just ban people’s accounts in silence. Some cheaters on Steam are hit by a VAC ban, which then gets displayed on their public profiles to brand them for eternity. In Rainbow Six Siege, all players in the game get a text message on the side when BattleEye bans a cheater. Many of these measures are mostly designed to deter other cheaters and show upstanding players that the anti-cheat system is working. What they also end up doing, whether intentionally or not, is shame cheaters who get caught. You might find that justified, but as much as I hate cheating, I greatly dislike the concept of public shaming, especially over the Internet. I believe that people can better themselves and I would like to give them a chance to enjoy the game in a way that’s fair to everyone. That’s why I feel like publicly branding people as cheaters is the wrong route to take, especially if a community is rather small. And even if a player were to be banned from the game completely, I’d still not feel like it’s my place to additionally punish them by telling the whole world about their misdeeds. That is not to say I’m not considering to at least inform their corporation (regardless of whether they get to keep they account), which would be a compromise between total silence and public branding.
Anyway, those are my observations, questions, and ideas in regards to dealing with cheaters.
I’d love to hear your take on it in the forum!