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In an early question in our site's history, we determined that questions about cheating in multiplayer games should be closed.

But what exactly is a cheat? Third party tools? In-game exploits? Where is the line?

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    Please feel free to post alternative answers if you disagree with my stance. – Invader Skoodge Mar 9 '15 at 16:36
  • It might be a good idea to link to the question that spurred this. – Frank Mar 9 '15 at 16:47
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    Here is one: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/209184/… – user101016 Mar 9 '15 at 16:52
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    Playing to Win can be an interesting read for anyone who is about to jump into the topic of what should be considered "cheap" or "cheating" (yes, I understand the two are different things). – Sterno Mar 9 '15 at 17:05
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    A cheat is when you do something in the game and you feel guilty afterwards. – Tyler Durden Mar 17 '15 at 21:45
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A cheat in a multiplayer game, for the purposes of determining whether a question violates our cheating guideline, is a tool that uses out-of-game resources to give you an advantage that the other players in the game don't have.

This does not include exploits in the game engine. If the process involves manipulating objects in-game in such a way that you perform a maneuver your opponent didn't know about or expect, that is not a cheat. "Cheap" tactics are perfectly acceptable in competitive/multiplayer games.

Remember that questions that break the terms of service of the game in question are also off topic. Some questions may be off topic for one or both of these reasons; just because something is "merely" an exploit doesn't mean it's automatically allowed if it's also against the terms of the game.

In both cases, a workable rule of thumb is, if it will get you banned, it's probably off topic here.

Example questions about cheats that are off topic:

  • How do I get this aimbot working in Team Fortress 2?
  • Is there a way to force a draw in League of Legends by sending specific packets to opponents?

Example questions that are on topic:

  • How do you build sentries out of bounds in Team Fortress 2? (This was fixed in a patch by the developers, but used to be possible by wiggling between level geometry.)
  • How can I infinite combo as Iron Man in Marvel vs. Capcom 2?
  • Q: "how can I know when the red armour and quad damage respawn in quake 3 matches?" A: autohotkey script that beeps 35 seconds after you last pressed F5 and 120 seconds after you last pressed F6. Is this a "cheat"? Is this what we want to consider a cheat? – badp Mar 9 '15 at 16:50
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    @badp That's a lifehack. – Invader Skoodge Mar 9 '15 at 16:52
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    @badp More seriously, I'm on the side of leaving more things open. If it's not directly ruining other players' experiences, it's probably fine. – Invader Skoodge Mar 9 '15 at 16:52
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    I forget, wasn't it LoL that considered external overlay timers to be cheating? I think it's pretty ridiculous but I suppose this varies on a community by community basis. Q3 players apparently would rather toy with programs that train you to do the maths in your head. I think it's ridiculous but again that isn't the point – badp Mar 9 '15 at 16:58
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    We're not here to protect other users' gameplay experiences. We're here, mostly, to make sure that questions fall within our area of expertise and are applicable to the typical gamer. – Sterno Mar 9 '15 at 17:00
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    @Sterno - Does this area include third-party tools for cheating in multiplayer, such as how to install an aim bot? Does this area include detailing how to perform an exploit that gives you an advantage in multiplayer, such as glitch out of the boundaries of a map? Both questions need some expertise to answer. – user101016 Mar 9 '15 at 17:42
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    @rasteve I probably should have mentioned, first, that I agreed with StrixVaria's answer. But what I was saying was that I don't really care whether or not someone's gameplay experience is ruined (from the standpoint of whether or not the question should be allowed). That's pretty subjective. Taking cheating out of it, some people have their gameplay experience ruined if you spawncamp them. Questions about how to effectively spawncamp would still be on-topic here. Let's not mix up the cheating issue with the "ruining someone's experience" issue. – Sterno Mar 9 '15 at 20:05
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    I mostly agree with this answer, but I'd also expand it to include exploitation of in-game bugs that has been officially and explicitly banned by the developer and for which user accounts are actioned against (warnings, bans, whatever.) – LessPop_MoreFizz Mar 9 '15 at 21:33
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    TL;DR: if it'll get you banned from playing when you get caught, I don't think we want it here. – LessPop_MoreFizz Mar 9 '15 at 21:36
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    @LessPop_MoreFizz - "if it'll get you banned from playing when you get caught, I don't think we want it here" - couldn't this be the answer, rather than an amendment? Online games tend to have a TOS. – user101016 Mar 9 '15 at 23:03
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    @rasteve It'll certainly get you 90% of the way there, IMO. – LessPop_MoreFizz Mar 9 '15 at 23:04
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    In the case of Payday 2-related cheats/exploits, while it may be against the TOS or the developer's view on the matter, you can't get banned from the game regardless of the cheats/exploits you use, as it has no banning mechanism at all. Also, Payday 2 is P2P only and has no official servers to ban players from. – galacticninja Mar 10 '15 at 7:58
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    Our stance on single player games hasn't changed at all. We'll help with that all day long. – Frank Mar 10 '15 at 16:03
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    I suppose I shouldn't ask about games that run on three monitors, 120 Degree Vision is clearly an 'out-of-game' resource that clearly gives me an advantage... – Mark Mar 11 '15 at 18:43
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    "exploits in the game engine" what then follows is not a description of an exploit, so it doesn't justify allowing exploits. There was a bug in the Asheron's Call engine that allowed you to get enormous amounts of money if you used a script to add enough items to cause the cost value to wrap into a negative number, thus giving you both money and the items. This was an exploit in the engine, and was certainly a form of cheating because it leveraged a bug. There is a difference between leveraging intended mechanics to ones advantage, versus leveraging a bug. The latter is an exploit. – AaronLS Mar 20 '15 at 3:43
0

I am going to throw another suggestion out there which is likely to be unpopular, but regardless, I will try to give a good reason for it.

A question regarding cheats, multiplayer or not, should be on topic as long as:

  1. You are not asking where to find third party tools/hacks as these are effectively something that comes under the off-topic - game recommendations banner
  2. You are not asking how to break an explicit clause in the game's terms of service (or whatever agreement name the game uses)

With the above, the following should be off-topic:

  1. Where can I find an aimbot for TF2? -> game recommendation...off-topic
  2. How can I enable the aimbot in this TF2 tool? -> against Valve's T&C's...off-topic

The following would be on-topic

  1. How can I get out of the map in TF2?
  2. How can I duplicate an item in Payday2?
  3. What is an aimbot?

In regards to StrixVaria's answer, this suggestion would match the examples of on-topic/off-topic questions.

In general, pretty much all in-game exploits should be on-topic whilst third party tools are mostly off-topic. Whether the question leads to the ruining of people's experience in game (such as you using an answer to get an unfair advantage over other players) or just some useful insight into how some 8 year old kid won't let you out of spawn is irrelevant. What I am saying is that sometimes the education of cheats help people decide if they are going to continue playing, or even use the exploit themselves to level the playing field.

Additionally, if a question asks "How do engineers get on top of the map in TF2?" and then proceeds to explain that they cannot use a spy to take out the turrets, its probably a good question. If someone simply asks "How do I get on-top of the map so I can spawn kill?" then its probably a bad question and will get down-marked. Regardless, both questions should be valid and may have the same answer (or set of answers).

Possible grey areas:

  1. Knowing whether the user agreement bans on specific practises (maybe presume tools are always going to be off-topic)
  2. Talking about aimbots/tools for online games that are not policed, such as the official server/service no longer available so people use various alternatives (maybe take the original stance of the T&C's?)
  • While I agree that these things should have a place to be discussed, and they are somewhat relevant to gaming because of obvious reasons, I don't believe they are on topic here. I don't like to segregate communities any more then the next person, but I think there should be a separate exchange for this kinda stuff, maybe something like 'The Wild Side' or something. It just gives a lot of people bad feelings when they see that kind of thing and I don't think it's appropriate in that respect. – ranger10700 Mar 12 '15 at 22:24
  • Enforcing another company's ToS for them is silly, IMO. – Matthew Read Mar 17 '15 at 0:23
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    @MatthewRead it's just the easiest, clearest line to draw in the absence of other better alternatives in most cases. – LessPop_MoreFizz Mar 17 '15 at 12:26
  • I'm going to test the community about the second gray one: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/210508/… – Ave Mar 20 '15 at 20:25
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When it comes to cheating, anything that can be seen as breaking or changing the game's rules/mechanics to give you (or somebody else) an advantage is a cheat and should not be allowed. This is not the same as "playing the game correctly", but more along the lines of "I don't like this rule, I'm going to change it" (example, key item duplicating), or in your own answer "I want to make my turrets invinicble"(this shouldn't even need an explanation on why it's a bad thing).

How do we determine what is an exploit and what is just clever/tactical gameplay, though? Well, most of the time we probably can't without developer response (can of worms), but that doesn't mean its now a green light to allow such cheating.

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    Any strategy in any game is using "rules/mechanics to give you an advantage". Who defines the rules, if not the game engine itself? – Invader Skoodge Mar 9 '15 at 16:59
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    the strategy is using the rules. exploits change the rules. – Rapitor Mar 9 '15 at 17:01
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    I get the distinction you're trying to make, but who decides the rules? – Invader Skoodge Mar 9 '15 at 17:02
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    The developer decides. – Virusboy Mar 10 '15 at 15:22
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    @Virusboy But the developer decides the rules by programming the game in a certain way. If the game allows something without external software and stuff then it was programmed to allow it whether the dev intended for his game to work this way or not. This way exploits are legitimate strategies. – user1337 Mar 17 '15 at 12:56
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    @user1337 Wrong, an exploit leverages something that was unintended, or otherwise a bug. – AaronLS Mar 20 '15 at 3:46
  • @Virusboy Well, ID Software didn't intend for the player character in Quake III Arena to be able to accelerate past 320 units per second, yet strafe jumping exists. Without being altered in any way, it wasn't intended at first but was accepted by both the devs and the public and is one of the fundamental, iconic functions of the game. Exploit or not? – user1337 Mar 21 '15 at 23:30
  • It's not only possible for something in the game engine to be cheating, it happens all the time. It's called a software bug, and they're often patched later. Example: early in MW2's lifespan, there was a way to make a javelin explode without launching it, killing everyone nearby. This was cheating, but people were able to do it without third-party software. It was eventually patched. Same with getting under the map or inside a rock where you can shoot others and they can't shoot you. – DCShannon Jan 12 '16 at 21:11

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