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Ice Phase VP Adjustment for Hear Me Roar
Posted: 21 March 2014 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Of The Seven
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This is not a post I enjoy writing, but it is important that we discuss things clearly and openly with the community.

We recently became aware of an infinite silver exploit being abused by several members of the Hear Me Roar Alliance. When we became aware of it, we closely monitored the affected accounts and found instances of silver increasing dramatically - at one point, a single account jumped by 14 million silver in twenty minutes. The vast majority of this silver was used to repair Hear Me Roar’s camps.

These exploiters were first pointed out through support tickets, and investigated by the Disruptor Beam Support Team. We understand how this exploit was done, and have identified the players involved. As a result, we are taking the following actions:

Hear Me Roar’s VP will be decreased by 40 million VP.
The exploiting players have been permanently banned.

Why remove 40 million VP?

We looked into whether we could clearly identify VP gained from the exploiting players. Previous AvA exploits and scripts relied on individual actions, such as many barter or fight actions. That was quite easy to find, total up, and remove. For this case, the silver went to keep camps repaired, so that the camps contributed their full VP per hour. Defining that exact amount would require days of work and verification, in addition to many assumptions. The exploiting accounts contributed 893,000,000 silver to camp repairs and upgrades (82% of the total), while all of the other Hear Me Roar members contributed 188,000,000 silver (18% of the total). The majority of the Ice Phase silver used up to 3/20/14 8:15pm EDT came from these exploiters.

Calculating VP due to repairs is difficult. There are a lot of assumptions involved, because an Alliance could spend 10 million silver in an hour of repairs, or 2 million silver for four hours of repairs. It all depends on the number of attacks that came in to an Alliance’s camps. After looking at the number of incoming attacks, the days that the attacks and repairs occurred, and discussing with the Hear Me Roar officers, we decided to remove 40 million VP. This VP will be removed proportional to their camp regions.

So we’re clear on the numbers involved, as of 3/20/14 8:15pm EDT (the time when all exploiting players were banned):

HMR had a total of 151,100,000 VP:

—77,500,000 VP came from AvA actions.
—450,000 VP came from AvA defenses.
—73,000,000 VP from camp and camp hourly contributions.
  -Of that 73,000,000, a large portion was supported by 23,400 AvA Aid actions.
  -Another large portion came from the silver repairs done by these exploiting accounts.
  -A smaller portion came from other HMR members.

By removing 40,000,000 VP, more than half of camp VP earned this phase will be removed.

We brought this issue to the attention of Hear Me Roar’s leadership, and they have agreed to our decision.

Why go straight to a permaban for these players?

Sometimes, the severity of an issue is so great that we skip our typical ban procedures and remove an account entirely. It is not a decision we make lightly.

What about other phases? Were they affected?

I performed an audit of silver contributions for previous phases and didn’t see significant evidence that this was being abused outside of the ice Phase. This phase saw silver contributions an order of magnitude greater than the previous four phases. The data itself may be found below.

Top 100 Silver Contributors

The leftmost outliers, aside from the exploiters, come from players who had large amounts of silver on their account before they began participating in AvA.

How confident are you that an exploit occurred?

Evidence for this:

—Manual recording of database transactions from the live database for two of the accounts, watching silver increase by several million in a minute or two.
—Outlier silver contributions that were an order of magnitude larger than previous phases.
—Aggregation of all quest completes, ptp barters, and other sources of silver to confirm that the silver gained by these accounts was far, far less than was contributed.
—Server logs indicating exploitation of buying and selling silver items by another of the affected accounts.

What about the exploit itself?

We’re plugging the holes that allowed this to happen. They should be fixed in a future update, and until then, we will be keeping a very close eye on the silver gains by Alliances.

We are also aware of several other exploits, and as part of our bugfixing focus these past few weeks, we have been plugging those holes. We will continue to do so in future updates. AvA is especially sensitive due to the competitive nature of the system.

But what if you’re wrong?

It’s always a possibility, but Khatie and I feel pretty confident that we both understand what was done, and who did it. Our engineers and QA team verified the exploit and were able to reproduce the issue, and the mechanism behind it is well understood. If we were wrong, we will reverse our decision, and of course every affected player will have a chance to appeal their ban.

What about Hear Me Roar?

Hear Me Roar is a huge Alliance. Their officers have helped us in the investigation, and it is important to note that none of their officers were involved. We’re confident that they’ll recover from this event, and we want to strongly note that the actions of a few players should not taint the vast majority of their players who play within the rules.

Since all players involved came from a single Alliance, we felt it was important to involve that Alliance in our discussions. For a competitive system like AvA, transparency is important for all parties. If you have any questions, please let us know in the thread.

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Posted: 21 March 2014 03:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Knight
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Thank you for the summary of the situation and for the swift action. 

Exploits like this need to be closed quickly and I think the perma-bans are appropriate in this case.  Glad you guys are looking at and catching these things.

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Posted: 21 March 2014 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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It saddens me that people would exploit the game so badly, but I am thrilled to hear that you are on top of things and were able to track it. Way to go DB on catching something so serious and acting definitively!

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Posted: 21 March 2014 03:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Of The Seven
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The VP has been removed at this time.

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Posted: 21 March 2014 03:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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wow… that graph speaks volumes! glad you guys caught them & are fixing the issues. good work DB!

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Posted: 21 March 2014 03:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Is there any way to tell if the banned accounts were even real people?

I know that if I were to want to cheat in AvA I wouldn’t use my own account.  Also cheating in this way would be most effective if a few people had the passwords for the “bank” account.

I believe what you found is the tip of the iceberg.

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Posted: 21 March 2014 03:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I am glad, to see that DB is always watching and catching this type of exploits or scripts. Keeping the game clean, competative and honest is important. But most importantly thank for being open and communicating this things to all players. Good Work!

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Posted: 21 March 2014 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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d.Red - 21 March 2014 03:41 PM

Is there any way to tell if the banned accounts were even real people?

I know that if I were to want to cheat in AvA I wouldn’t use my own account.  Also cheating in this way would be most effective if a few people had the passwords for the “bank” account.

I believe what you found is the tip of the iceberg.

They were real accounts. There hasn’t been any evidence that they were communal accounts.

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Posted: 21 March 2014 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Ser Dagon Blacktyde - 21 March 2014 03:09 PM

Thank you for the summary of the situation and for the swift action. 

Exploits like this need to be closed quickly and I think the perma-bans are appropriate in this case.  Glad you guys are looking at and catching these things.


+1 on both your hard work and the cooperation that the leadership from HMR has given.

I would like to offer my support to them and thank them for helping you. It is very hard to police everyone in a large alliance. I also would not want to see them all blamed for the actions of a few. (You may be my mortal enemy but you are Warriors with honor too.)

For those of you in HMR that have been working hard and thought you were winning fairly Please do not be discouraged. The majority of your fellow players know you did nothing wrong and are more than likely even more outraged than we are that your good name is tainted by the actions of a few.


See you on the field of battle Lions! This Dragon salutes your courage in the face of this sad affair!

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Posted: 21 March 2014 04:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Old Gods
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Well said, Jax. We appreciate that HMR Leaders took the time to help us come up with a fair way for this to be resolved.

Keep up the fair play, everyone. Have a happy weekend.

max

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Posted: 21 March 2014 04:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Khatie - 21 March 2014 04:01 PM

Well said, Jax. We appreciate that HMR Leaders took the time to help us come up with a fair way for this to be resolved.

Keep up the fair play, everyone. Have a happy weekend.

max

I have to say good job to DB for this issue, as well as the permanent ban.

On the other hand, I just lost a lot of permanent items, ss, and some talent points after today’s reincarnation, and I have 100+ permanent items, 100+ permanent ss…. Ticket sent, but I guess I won’t have a happy weekend now. :(

Anyway…. happy weekend to everyone else. smile

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Posted: 21 March 2014 04:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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I’m a HMR member.
I didn’t cheated and now I see I was putting a lot of effort towards nothing…

Thank you guys, I’m sure you caught some players doing something wrong, and I want to congratulate you on that, I hate cheaters(specially when I dont even know how to cheat).
But, what about other alliances?
Are they getting punished?? or you want us to believe that mine the only one that cheated???
How was it possible that other alliances in the previous phases got huge vp amounts in 1 day and eventually won the whole thing and no one found anything wrong??? 
They even brag about it…
Please just explain me and my other fellow players, not our wise leaders who comply with all your choices and ruling, the ones who are bored to dead of clicking just to make our ally the greatest, a few things:
After taking a huge defecation on that effort I mentioned how do you expect us to keep playing AvA without knowing if a new member decides to join us and screw our ally just for the sake of it or to help his real alliance???
Do you think we are going to spend a € or $ or even a bitcoin more after this display of justice??
Yes, because you can only call it that when it applies to all, not just the chosen ones.

Last, but not least I’m really happy I never spent a single cent on this game; first it was the bugs but now you just managed to prevent me for getting poorer at your expenses! never smile

Other than that the game is looking better and the party system really improved things, and showed you do listen to players, the only reason I decided to write this post.

This AvA is rigged and I wonder which ally are your friends playing at, believe me if I find out I’ll learn to cheat so I can dock their effort smile

Thank you for your attention!

 

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Posted: 21 March 2014 04:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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I didn’t want to double post sorry

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Posted: 21 March 2014 04:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Zédric Vivarion - 21 March 2014 04:30 PM

I’m a HMR member.
I didn’t cheated and now I see I was putting a lot of effort towards nothing…

Thank you guys, I’m sure you caught some players doing something wrong, and I want to congratulate you on that, I hate cheaters(specially when I dont even know how to cheat).
But, what about other alliances?
Are they getting punished?? or you want us to believe that mine the only one that cheated???
How was it possible that other alliances in the previous phases got huge vp amounts in 1 day and eventually won the whole thing and no one found anything wrong??? 
They even brag about it…
Please just explain me and my other fellow players, not our wise leaders who comply with all your choices and ruling, the ones who are bored to dead of clicking just to make our ally the greatest, a few things:
After taking a huge defecation on that effort I mentioned how do you expect us to keep playing AvA without knowing if a new member decides to join us and screw our ally just for the sake of it or to help his real alliance???
Do you think we are going to spend a € or $ or even a bitcoin more after this display of justice??
Yes, because you can only call it that when it applies to all, not just the chosen ones.

Last, but not least I’m really happy I never spent a single cent on this game; first it was the bugs but now you just managed to prevent me for getting poorer at your expenses! never smile

Other than that the game is looking better and the party system really improved things, and showed you do listen to players, the only reason I decided to write this post.

This AvA is rigged and I wonder which ally are your friends playing at, believe me if I find out I’ll learn to cheat so I can dock their effort smile

Thank you for your attention!

I am sorry you and so many others have put so much hard work into benefiting your alliance via AvA and there has been a 40 million point deduction. However I think you are looking at this completely the wrong way. Members of HMR have cheated so they have rightfully been banned and their points gained as a result of them cheating have been removed. If NO members of HMR had cheated this would not be the case and no points would have been removed.

I applaud the officers of HMR for assisting DB in finding those who have cheated and hope the attitude HMR officers have in regards to cheating spreads throughout its membership so points are never needed to be deducted again. Also you claim that the winners of last phase, Fire and Blood, have bragged that they got away with cheating. I am a member of Fire and Blood and this comment you made is a LIE, if it isn’t please post a link with as member of Fire and Blood bragging about cheating and I will happily apologise.

Moreover you say that you want to learn to cheat so you can have points of other alliance docked. This is the worst attitude to have as it would mean that just like you, many people who have been working hard for their alliances will be faced with the upsetting reality of DB removing points from them as well. I hope you were joking about wanting to cheat as this is would hurt many as it has hurt you and if you weren’t I advise DB keep a close eye on you.

Please everyone no more cheating it ruins phases and results in lots of legitimate players who don’t cheat being penalised as their alliance looses points. It also ruins the competitiveness of AvA and if it continues may ruin this brilliant game DB have made for us.

 

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Posted: 21 March 2014 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Zédric Vivarion - 21 March 2014 04:30 PM

Do you think we are going to spend a € or $ or even a bitcoin more after this display of justice??
Yes, because you can only call it that when it applies to all, not just the chosen ones.

Last, but not least I’m really happy I never spent a single cent on this game; first it was the bugs but now you just managed to prevent me for getting poorer at your expenses! never smile

How much you have or haven’t spent on the game, or are willing to do in the future, has no bearing on how we deal with cheating.  It doesn’t matter if someone has spent $0 or $1000, or whether someone tells us what they plan to spend in the future. It doesn’t matter if they are in the largest alliance or the smallest one.  Nor do we focus special attention on the largest alliances.

We have a lot of data at our disposal and we can see outliers.  We can log strange behaviors, and add more logging when we think there’s a potential exploit.  Is it expense for us to do this?  Yes.  It consumes time and resources we could be spending on other aspects of the game.  Yet it’s necessary to keep the game fair, and we consider it amongst the most important things we do.  We can’t have 100% certainty that we caught 100% involved in the exploit—there’s no sport or game which can claim that.  We can’t guarantee that we will apply justice to “all,” but we sure try pretty damn hard.  If there had been others abusing this exploit to the extent that the HMR members did, you can be assured that we’d have found them because we’re aware of what to look for.

 

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Posted: 21 March 2014 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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mm

Congratulations to DB and HmR for fair play.

But…Are you telling me that you caught them because you were monitoring them?

So, is there a some type of (program, robot, checker….) that do it automatically?

I think no, because 14 million silver in 20 minutes will give the alarm in any “robot”.

So, there is the possibility that some alliance is using this exploit but only increasing small amounts of silver.

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