Table of contents
Why adopt an anti-cheat system?
- It’s no secret: Cheating is prevalent in many multiplayer games. It’s an even bigger problem in a Single-Shard metaverse with PvP, like Dual Universe. Therefore, we needed to put several safety measures in place to ensure a fair game for all players. Our client anti-cheat implementation is one of these measures.
- The main goal of the EQU8 anti-cheat system we adopted is to prevent modification of the game client as a lot of cheats rely on these modifications in order to access hidden data, automate actions, or display extra information to the cheater. For example, a "wall hack" usually reads the other players positions in the game memory and overlays these on the game’s interface. The anti-cheat system has other roles too, but we don't want to enter into too technical details here.
- We’re no anti-cheat experts, especially client-side. On the other hand, EQU8 has a dedicated team working on it full time. They also gather experience from other games, so it makes sense to use their solution, which is already up and running, as well as their experience and availability to help us in that regard.
Why using a client side solution instead of securing the Server?
Client-side security is usually considered a bad thing, as the computer is controlled by the player. Indeed. In an ideal world, all controls and all security measures should be server-side.
However, there are two good reasons to also use a client-side anticheat:
- There are controls which are difficult to implement server-side, and which we don’t have any clever solution yet, nor the time to work on for now. For example, loading the game physics for all players at the same time, and ensuring no one is passing through walls, is nearly impossible to do in real-time.
- In security, there is also a notion called “in depth defense”. It acknowledges a system can never be 100% secured and thus requires several layers of security. If one fails, the second prevents further escalation.
We know a client-side anticheat cannot be 100% bullet-proof. However, it does increase the technical requirements of any client-side attack. The better the anticheat solution is, the more skills and time are required… up to the point where the effort is not worth the gain. This means two things: less active cheats in the game, and more time for us to identify those who fall between the cracks. Of course, it does not mean we are leaving our Server unprotected; Another reason why we delegated the client-side anticheat to an external partner is that it leaves us more time to work on the Server. And just to be clear, what we’re saying is not a challenge to attract any sort of attack here.
- It’s less intrusive than other, similar third-party solutions, and aims to respect players' privacy.
- It has low performance impact (actually, it’s almost imperceivable) and good reputation regarding false positives and potential crashes.
- The EQU8 team is very responsive and engaged. This is a big strength of theirs, and we greatly appreciate their unconditional support!
- The solution is very flexible and configurable, which is important because Dual Universe is a complex game that often requires specific tuning.
- Oh, and the most important: it detects cheaters efficiently. 🧐
- The anti-cheat needs to install a Windows service on its first run to work properly. This requires administrator privileges, which is why the launcher requests them. This service only runs with the game. If the game is stopped, so does the service. Please also keep in mind that stopping the service on purpose triggers a kick, as it’s interpreted as a cheating attempt.
- The launcher currently requests administrator privileges on each launch. This is a bug which will be fixed soon.
- With the introduction of the anticheat, the client will refuse to start if run directly from the binary (Dual.exe). This is expected and is a technical constraint. You need to start the game from the launcher every time.
What is authorized or forbidden
- Modifying the game files is forbidden, except for the Game/data/lua folder (this is the only location where you can add or modify files).
- Modifying the game cache is forbidden (by default it is located in the directory C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Local\NQ\DualUniverse\) ;
- Creating new Lua files is authorized as long as these are new files imported from in game scripts. In this case, you should put the files in the Game\data\lua\ folder to be able to import them.
- Reading or modifying the game memory is forbidden.
- Disabling, modifying, or attempting to evade the anti-cheat in any way is forbidden.
- Playing at the same time with two or more accounts is authorized, but please note, that any form of automating multiple accounts is forbidden
- Helping someone, or driving someone, to do forbidden actions is obviously forbidden too.
- Discovering or knowing or an issue, bug, or exploit and benefiting from it instead of reporting it to Novaquark is forbidden.
- Sharing accounts between different people is forbidden. Any action performed on your account is the responsibility of its owner. The Customer Support team won’t be able to help regarding any issues happening due to account sharing. The owner is responsible for any action made with the account.
- Trying to degrade the game performances of other players for any reason is forbidden.
- Using macro programs (like AutoHotKey) or similar hardware tools is authorized as long as you don’t automate gameplay. We consider gameplay as automated (and, thus, forbidden) when the macro or script:
- Takes decisions based on game feedback
- Executes actions for more than a few seconds
- Executes without any user input or when not actively playing the game.
For example, using a macro to keep a button pushed instead of maintaining it is authorized. But using a macro to send a message every hour is forbidden, especially if you are not even in front of your screen.
What happens to cheaters ?
- Our policy is to not issue automatic bans. There is always a human review when the anti-cheat system detects any unauthorized behaviour. Nonetheless, you may temporarily be kicked out of the game if the anti-cheat cannot initialize correctly. This may result in a short connection timeout and a 'disconnected by Admin' error message at login.
- Sanctions include (at the discretion of the Novaquark team):
- Removing access to the game, temporarily or permanently (aka ban),
- In case of recurring offenses, the player may get a hardware ban (in this case, the player won’t be able to play the game with any current or future account, even if those accounts were never used for cheating).
- Plus, any action required to revert any change made to the game world (removing Quantas or items, restoring constructs state, etc.).
- This list is not exhaustive and may be updated by Novaquark as the team sees fit.
Why is it forbidden to modify game files or import custom DLL ?
We know some players or organizations have used local libraries (aka. DLLs) with great success and with good intentions.
However, this option gives unfair advantages compared to pure in-game scripts (extra CPU capabilities, the ability to execute Internet requests or load/store data on the computer disk for example).
Moreover, we don't want players to massively share and use these custom libraries, because it has severe security and privacy implications that we cannot control and we want to protect our players (for example, a player in an organization would need to install the organization library to use its scripts and constructs, but this library may as well read all his/her files without his/her knowledge nor consent on the disk, and send them to the author or do almost anything on the computer). Keep in mind that libraries could contain malware too. You don’t want that.
Finally, adding or modifying a DLL allows users to modify the game behavior in an arbitrary way, which directly leads to heavy cheating. For example, it allows access to the game’s memory and to escape the anti-cheat verification. We can't secure this at all, so player-made libraries are clearly a no-go security wise.
Therefore, after careful examination, we decided to forbid any import which is not proper lua code.
Could player-made libraries be integrated after NQ’s validation?
Having a process to submit, review, and integrate libraries looks good on the paper. However, code review is a tedious process. It is a lot harder than checking an image. There would be technical challenges to integrate them into the game too. Also note that we don't want to transform Lua scripts into full-fledged operating systems. They are simply supposed to be lightweight scripts, not full-fledged operating systems. 🛰️
Thus, we don't want to engage this process, at least in the near future. We simply don’t have the time or resources for this at the moment.
EQU8 is not compatible with Linux / consoles
Unfortunately, EQU8 does not work under Linux, even with Wine. This is due to the Windows functions it uses to protect the game’s integrity, which are different from other operating systems. This is a trade-off we had to make between having a fair game (without cheats) and compatibility.
Most players and games are on Windows. Thus, very few anti-cheat solutions support Linux (even less with good support). Because of this, we did not find an anticheat solution which works on Linux and suits our needs. However, please note that this decision doesn't prevent us from adding an alternative anti-cheat solution in the future, in case we decide to officially support Linux systems or consoles later on. Nothing prevents us from having a different anti-cheat for each platform in the future. 😎
We hope you found this FAQ about anti-cheats useful and helped to understand better why we chose EQU8.