Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Max Payne 3's "Cheater Pool" is Brilliant

If you've been following Max Payne 3 news at all, which I assume the bulk of us have been, then you may just have heard about the "Cheater Pool" before now.  I had read about it when it was but a mere suggestion, and chose not to bring it up because I figured it would never see the light of day.  I mean, it's an entirely smart and actually kind of hilarious idea, thus it's chances of existing for real are quite low.  Against all odds, however, it is live and absolutely glorious because of this fact.  As a validation of this type of thought, I imagine we could see it permeating into other games in a similar fashion, so I think it would behoove us all to keep an eye out on just how this one plays out.  Or....maybe the next iteration of it, since I imagine the next iteration (in a new game) will likely not wait a month and a half or so to come out as a way to relegate the players, since cheaters are likely going to get in early and get gone quick.

If you don't know what the Cheater Pool is and don't want to click either of the provided links, let me assure you that it is of a design that is quite brilliant.  One of the scourges of playing online is, from the mouths of just about anyone who -has- played a game online, running into folks who have this and that set up to help them cheat wins and kills.  Cheaters reliably suck all of the fun out of a game for the simple fact that they are generally insurmountable.  You might take to them as a challenge at first, someone to be taken care of specially, to be flanked or otherwise out-strategized, but it rarely ever works like that.  Eventually, it takes all of the verve out of the majority of us, as we simply find ourselves this cheaters second, third, fifteenth kill in a match.  So what does the Cheater Pool do that is so brilliant?  That it might make the days of cheaters destroying your fun draw fewer and fewer in between?

It pits Cheaters against other Cheaters, well outside of the bounds of the rest of us common, decent folks.  Players who are found out to be using modded or hacked game saves or any other sort of cheating device are quarantined from the normal matches and lobbies to the special ones reserved purely for their ilk.  Within the Cheater Pool, Cheaters are the only ones there, and there they remain until it is clear that they want to play on the straight and narrow again, presumably by means of simply re-downloading the game and not dicking around with the tools and programs out there.  At least, that's how it starts, but the actual way to get yourself a ticket outside of the Cheater Pool is a bit more nebulous, and for good reason I assume.  Rumor has it that the way to earn your way back into good graces is by playing (win or lose) 100 matches within the Cheater Pool unassisted with mods, hacks or other such nonsense.  Of course, that's just for the first offense.  If you get your way out and muck it up again, you can look forward to playing against other Cheaters for the duration of the games multi-player lifespan, barring special circumstances, I should assume.

Of course, the worry of such a system is "What if I get caught in it, because I never cheat?"  First off, if you never cheat, you wouldn't be worried about that.  So don't worry about that.  Stop worrying about that, you're ruining everything great.  Well, there is a support page where you can email the Cheater Pool team to have your case investigated, but by all rights, if you're in the Cheater Pool, it's because you were cheating.  Apparently every person relegated to the Pool is manually checked over, as in not automated, and only when it's absolutely clear that the player is cheating are they kicked out of respectable society, so to speak.  If anything, that's probably a flaw in the entire system, since it likely means that it won't be all that streamlined or quick, but I imagine it will succeed in its goals.  The human touch to it is probably the double-edged sword in all of it, for the reasons I spoke of already, but anything to thin the numbers at least a little bit.

I think it's pretty obvious as to why I find the idea both wonderful and hilarious, so much so that I don't need to elaborate on it much further.  It's simply a system that, if it works properly, cleans up the riff-raff more or less who detract from the overall online experience while then pitting them against one another to ensure that they get a taste of their own medicine.  Yeah, your aimbot is so cool that everyone else has it too!  I have to wonder, however, how one -knows- if they're in the Cheater Pool.  Does it say that in the lobby?  Does it give an indication next to your tag or something?  Or is it just when you receive crushing defeat or at least mild difficulty in the wake of your tools that you realize "Oh, I am not alone"?  I can't find anything specific, but at the same time I suppose I don't care so much.  So long as it works and we don't see anyone shouting from the rooftops that they were 'so unfairly relegated' to it and cause a big to-do.  I imagine that there's a fail-safe in place that can be produced quickly in such a case, but we'll just have to see.

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