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Good old multi account problem


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#1 Unduli   Members   -  Reputation: 719

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 09:19 PM

Hello there,

 

  I searched forum but pity most of results were pretty archaic. I know gamedev is more like non-browser oriented but still believe I can get some input.

 

  I am working on a browser game and since it will be persistant, pity I have no luxury to design game allowing multiple accounts. So there will be a constant battle with multiers.

 

  Can't recall (probably here) but someone mentioned being "too enthusiastic" about multi-free game and imposing restrictions and formalities on players will make you lose in mid-long run. Not to mention trouble of false positives. This narrows already limited options when it comes to browser gaming.

 

  Cookies and Flash LSO (which is not available @ smartphones and tablets) are already exposed and you can't rely on IP. In that case , lame but true , a multier can change IP and clear browser cache and go on. I am not aware of effectiveness of database mining for heuristic scans.

 

  So, I'd like to hear from you regarding this.

 

 Thanks in advance.


Edited by Unduli, 30 November 2013 - 09:21 PM.


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#2 Sirisian   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1626

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 12:11 AM

Design your game such that multiple accounts offers no benefit? That's really the only way.



#3 mark ds   Members   -  Reputation: 990

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 08:53 AM

What if two brothers use the same PC with their own game accounts. It's a totally feasible scenario which breaks your attempt to stop 'multiers'. In other words, it's not worth the effort.



#4 Unduli   Members   -  Reputation: 719

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 09:54 AM

Design your game such that multiple accounts offers no benefit? That's really the only way.

 

 

It's not even possible at Farmville, I've no idea how to design a persistant game having multi has no benefit in any run. Even take a primitive example Travian, I can send resource to my base account.

 

 

What if two brothers use the same PC with their own game accounts. It's a totally feasible scenario which breaks your attempt to stop 'multiers'. In other words, it's not worth the effort.

 

This is why false positives must be eliminated , making job harder. But considering they'll cripple "microtransaction" revenue, it actually worths trouble. Because it also involves gold farmers, character traders etc.



#5 TheComet   Members   -  Reputation: 1321

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 11:46 AM

You'll have to find something a person can only have once, and tie the account to that. Since these days everything can be pretty much duplicated and/or faked, I don't think it's possible.

You could do something like generate an activation code for every instance of the game a person buys. The code allows the user to tie his/her e-mail to the game, making it fairly safe of duplicate accounts. Then again, you'll always have people who will buy more than one account.

Checking for duplicate credit card numbers would work, but you'd be eliminating the ability for two brothers in the same household to play the game, as the dad/mum would only be able to buy one instance.

If you want my advice, go with an activation code if you really need to and leave it at that. It's pointless and annoying for the client if they have to pass multiple security tests each time.

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#6 Waterlimon   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2314

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 12:38 PM

Would you punish someone who has a friend living somewhere else, doing whatever the multiers do? (eg "sacrificing" the other account to boost the first one. The friend might want to help the person in the game or something.)

 

It is the unfair activity that you should prevent, not a single player controlling multiple accounts, because the activity works just as well when multiple people are cooperating with their own single accounts.

 

So focus on that instead. Of course it makes sense to add some basic limitations to weed out any totally unrealistic situations (1000 accounts on the same computer/email)


Waterlimon (imagine this is handwritten please)


#7 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 16685

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 02:09 PM

What if two brothers use the same PC with their own game accounts. It's a totally feasible scenario which breaks your attempt to stop 'multiers'. In other words, it's not worth the effort.

 

This is why false positives must be eliminated , making job harder. But considering they'll cripple "microtransaction" revenue, it actually worths trouble. Because it also involves gold farmers, character traders etc.

 

There is zero possible way to detect whether two brothers share the same PC (something very common in my household) verses one user using two accounts. Or a friend visiting a friend's house. Or two college students playing from the same college IP address. Will you block the entire college? How will you know what IP addresses are colleges, and which are households?

You are either blocking legitimate customers (the two brothers or the college) or allowing in the farmers (one person with two accounts).

 

Not everyone with two accounts is farming, even if one player is playing on two accounts: They may have two separate characters, for fun.

 

Further! Even if you block all secondary accounts (including punishing legitimate customers - which is impossible to detect), you still wouldn't be blocking all the gold farmers, because in China it's not 1 farmer running 20 accounts, it's 20 farmers at 50 cents an hour in a warehouse each running one account. Impossible to detect.

(Or, for real, chinese prisoners forced to gold farm for the prison guards to sell)

 

Instead, design the mechanics of your game to make it less worth the hassle for gold farmers, or just block all of China (who'll just use proxy servers) and punish legitimate families of gamers sharing PCs, and still not be 100% farmer-free. You have to weigh the very real need to block pirates and farmers against annoying and outright blocking your legitimate customers. This applies to DRM, but this also applies to your game's built-in anti-hacker anti-farmer anti-griefer anti-whatever features.


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#8 Satharis   Members   -  Reputation: 945

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 02:39 AM

A better question is why your game benefits from people having multiple accounts, maybe you should rectify that design problem?

Using a game like WoW for example, you gain absolutely nothing from having multiple accounts even if they were free, seeing as you only profit by actually doing something in the game. If you game is based on gathering resources over time or something than the obvious thing to do would be to design it so that you can't simply give resources away to someone.

Being realistic, there's no good way to identify people on the internet, even banning people is essentially completely impossible since it takes little more than a proxy or changing the ip or mac address and using different information for you to have no clue it isn't a completely different person. That's the world we live in, and honestly it shouldn't be that big a deal.

Edited by Satharis, 02 December 2013 - 02:40 AM.


#9 ShadowFlar3   Members   -  Reputation: 1147

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 03:37 AM

Using a game like WoW for example, you gain absolutely nothing from having multiple accounts even if they were free, seeing as you only profit by actually doing something in the game. If you game is based on gathering resources over time or something than the obvious thing to do would be to design it so that you can't simply give resources away to someone.
 

 

I'm not saying WoW is a bad example and it probably has a point over some other online games but it has had and probably still has many kinds of ways of multi-account abuse. You can use your 2 accounts to farm honor in many ways including killing your other faction character(s) with your character(s), going to the multiplayer battlegrounds and forcing the other side to lose for example by taking the flag somewhere where it can't be reached or you could just fill the BG with your own characters by multiqueue. Gold farming uses the 2 factions and neutral AH for transfering and I'm sure for lots of other things.

 

Then there is the whole "multiboxers" issue where people can with few simple steps control 5 identical characters running on top of each other with 0 delay which is totally unfair. Can be used to boost leveling, PvP and honor farming, even some instances...

 

For the multiaccount problem I can't say anything but there's no solution you could hardcode into your game or completely design around the problem. People that want to will be able to find a way to abuse even if you take extreme measures in preventing it and block huge amount of legitimate players out of the game because of that.

 

But you have one big resource at hand that will do the job for you, in a way: the community. Everybody are competing in the same world by the same rules, they fight and try to do well. Where there is abuse there is always the one who gets abused and maybe people who witness it. I didn't skip on any of my reports in WoW when I played it, not even later on private servers. Even them could spare enough resources to be able to handle the reports swiftly and appropriately.

 

So build a good reporting function and find resources to handle them and community will do the law enforcing job for you. smile.png


Edited by ShadowFlar3, 02 December 2013 - 03:38 AM.


#10 Paragon123   Members   -  Reputation: 389

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 01:05 PM

This type of problem is nearly impossible to just "detect", first there is the case of multiple real players playing legitimately using the same computer. And any player that truly wants to multi will find a way. Reroute IP, clear cache, virtual machines, etc.

 

 The only thing you can do, is look through players actions and detect blatant multi's. I.e, if a player sends all their resources to the same account every day or if a particular player always loses battles to the same player continuously. I am not even sure if you'd be able to do it algorithmically. Perhaps you could define and log "red flag behavior", then judge accounts with many flagged actions on a case by case basis. 



#11 Satharis   Members   -  Reputation: 945

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 05:10 PM

I'm not saying WoW is a bad example and it probably has a point over some other online games but it has had and probably still has many kinds of ways of multi-account abuse. You can use your 2 accounts to farm honor in many ways including killing your other faction character(s) with your character(s), going to the multiplayer battlegrounds and forcing the other side to lose for example by taking the flag somewhere where it can't be reached or you could just fill the BG with your own characters by multiqueue. Gold farming uses the 2 factions and neutral AH for transfering and I'm sure for lots of other things.

Honestly honor farming doesn't accomplish much, you can buy certain tradeable materials with it, sure, but in most cases the time cost compared to some other kind of farming seems like it would be a waste. How profitable it is changes vastly based on expansion as well.
 

Then there is the whole "multiboxers" issue where people can with few simple steps control 5 identical characters running on top of each other with 0 delay which is totally unfair. Can be used to boost leveling, PvP and honor farming, even some instances...

I've never seen multiboxing used for much of anything except running around in world pvp or battlegrounds and one shotting people for fun, straight up kills provide very little honor and considering most of the battlegrounds are much larger thna 4 or 5 characters and the vast majority of honor comes from winning, it doesn't make much difference in farming value over one character. Multiboxing is only good for using the same characters to say, cast the same spell all at once anyway, using them in an instance would be a nightmare at best.
 

For the multiaccount problem I can't say anything but there's no solution you could hardcode into your game or completely design around the problem. People that want to will be able to find a way to abuse even if you take extreme measures in preventing it and block huge amount of legitimate players out of the game because of that.

Like I said, its a fools game to spend your time trying to stop the people that are "cheating" instead of banning people for being bad you should just stop them from being able to be bad in the first place.

Edited by Satharis, 02 December 2013 - 05:10 PM.


#12 ShadowFlar3   Members   -  Reputation: 1147

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 01:42 AM

I've never seen multiboxing used for much of anything except running around in world pvp or battlegrounds and one shotting people for fun, straight up kills provide very little honor and considering most of the battlegrounds are much larger thna 4 or 5 characters and the vast majority of honor comes from winning, it doesn't make much difference in farming value over one character. Multiboxing is only good for using the same characters to say, cast the same spell all at once anyway, using them in an instance would be a nightmare at best.

 

 

I have personally seen many kinds of behavior on BGs and the stories I've heard...Especially on private vanilla/TBC servers where each multibox account don't cost money and leveling is fast there are loads of abuse and honor farming. Yes, people do bother with it and things can be minmaxed and optimized to make it profitable thus why people do it.

 

http://www.wow-one.com/forum/index.php?app=core&module=search&do=search&fromMainBar=1

 

Note that even when you say multiboxer "one shots people for fun" you have to understand it still ruins the gameplay experience for those other people and this is unwanted and problematic behavior. It arises quite a bit of discussion, but Blizzard allows it. The only thing that keeps multiboxing marginal and saves retail WoW from it is that you'd need to pay subscription fees for each of the accounts and not many people want to invest in it.

 

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/search?f=post&forum=984270&q=multiboxing&sort=popularity&dir=d

 

The multiboxing scene is far more blown out than what you might think from your everyday experience in WoW because there are simply so many players that do not multibox. Multiboxers actually try to keep what they do secret in order to avoid player griefing. And yes, instances can be multiboxed as well and it happens in current WoW.  People use setups like 1 tank, 1 healer and 3 identical dps with keyboard software and macros to practically control all chars from single screen:

 

http://www.google.com/search?q=multiboxing+wow+instances+site:www.dual-boxing.com


Edited by ShadowFlar3, 03 December 2013 - 01:43 AM.


#13 Satharis   Members   -  Reputation: 945

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 08:26 PM

I have personally seen many kinds of behavior on BGs and the stories I've heard...Especially on private vanilla/TBC servers where each multibox account don't cost money and leveling is fast there are loads of abuse and honor farming. Yes, people do bother with it and things can be minmaxed and optimized to make it profitable thus why people do it.

I wouldn't bring up, or honestly care about private servers, that really isn't a symbol of how detrimental something is to the gameplay in the actual game.

Most of the money gold farmers make is farming low level things like rare pets or gathering materials, these are things that are easier to bot and don't even require multiple accounts, multiboxing doesn't serve much of a practical purpose that I can honestly see.
 

Note that even when you say multiboxer "one shots people for fun" you have to understand it still ruins the gameplay experience for those other people and this is unwanted and problematic behavior. It arises quite a bit of discussion, but Blizzard allows it. The only thing that keeps multiboxing marginal and saves retail WoW from it is that you'd need to pay subscription fees for each of the accounts and not many people want to invest in it.

No offense but I'd make a stark contrast between people actually making game breaking abuse out of multiple accounts and people just being jerks with it. People being jerks with it is something the OP obviously would not have to tolerate in their game, I would say people being annoying is much less important than physically detrimenting the game or its economy as well.
 

The multiboxing scene is far more blown out than what you might think from your everyday experience in WoW because there are simply so many players that do not multibox. Multiboxers actually try to keep what they do secret in order to avoid player griefing. And yes, instances can be multiboxed as well and it happens in current WoW.  People use setups like 1 tank, 1 healer and 3 identical dps with keyboard software and macros to practically control all chars from single screen:

Honestly even if someone has the ability to run every instance with one computer, you get little out of instances besides gear, perhaps enchant materials, and multiboxing isn't botting, you still have one person having to tediously run the entire dungeon over and over. Not to mention in actual WoW there are limits on most of the good things you can get like the lockouts on heroics unless you random queue.

The only place that makes any kind of tangible money from instances in WoW would be raiding, and if you can show me a multiboxer or multiboxers that can raid I would say they deserve that money because that would be a feat of epic proportions.

Anyway this whole conversation doesn't apply that well, multiboxing only works on games like WoW where its a dynamic combat based world where you actually get useful ability out of synching up attacks and such, it's not like it would help for farmville or something.

#14 ShadowFlar3   Members   -  Reputation: 1147

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 01:00 AM

 I wouldn't bring up, or honestly care about private servers, that really isn't a symbol of how detrimental something is to the gameplay in the actual game.

Whether you care about it or not, private server issues are actually more relevant to the OP's situation assuming he won't be charging subscription fees. With free accounts you are always bound to get more of trolling and abuse that more or less ruins the experience for other players. If you only played retail WoW you haven't begun seeing the problem OP is addressing.

 

Doesn't serve any point to argue about if multi account is problem for WoW, other online games or OP's game because it is taken for granted in the thread opening post that it is and OP is only trying to find solutions for it. So let's focus on how to fix it.


Edited by ShadowFlar3, 04 December 2013 - 01:01 AM.


#15 Unduli   Members   -  Reputation: 719

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 09:51 AM

Sorry for late reply and thanks for your contribution.

 

First of all,

 

I am aware there is no magic way of fixing this. And two/three/X people using same computer/IP etc is not much problem. Can inform people that you may have different characters but if you donate stuff between or so , it gets suspicion.

 

My problem is more of determined multiers and Chinese farmers of "Servant" :)

 

Can track novice ones by several tools , starting from cookie to Local Storage, but there is nothing I am aware when it comes to someone using proxy/Tor (actually I can forbid it but still) and wiping browser history / changing IP etc really determined ones.



#16 conq   Members   -  Reputation: 336

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 10:56 AM

Log every action players do that can affect others. Establish a path of trades. "This account has traded with these accounts which traded with these accounts". Aggregate that information so you can quickly view who is trading away.

 

Offer players rewards for reporting gold sellers.

 

When the player reports them, immidiately go upstream and investigate every account they're related to (Who they've traded with). If they're fraudulent, lock them from trading (in a way where they receive no warning), but don't ban them. When they try to trade, log who they are trading with, and investigate those accounts as well. Once you have a sizeable list of people, ban away.

 

Look up gold seller sites yourself. If you see your game on there, buy gold, ban all the related accounts that try to trade with you, and reject the credit card transaction. (I know an MMO that did this, and it worked pretty well).

 

Also log how much of the money in the econemy is being generated in what way. Gold farmers make a living finding the most efficient method possible, and farming it. If you nerf it, you're directly hurting their profits.


Edited by conq, 05 December 2013 - 11:02 AM.


#17 Paragon123   Members   -  Reputation: 389

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 11:32 AM

It's impossible to detect those. Imagine the following scenario, player A plays game, likes the game, tells player B. Player B joins doesn't like the game but instead of simply quitting the game they set up a farming script/bot and give all the farmed loot to player A because they are friends.  Since they are two completely different people/computers/IPs etc there is no possible way to link them by physical hardware/connection. This scenario is completely indistinguishable from a single player who is determined to multi.

 

You really only have two options and neither are particularly good.

 First, you can design the game such that all interaction is with algorithmically selected players. If game play contains matches, then use a match making system so players can't select their multi for an easy win. If you have a trade/shop function then items are traded/sold anonymously so they can't sell/trade items with their multi for free. This solution sucks because players can't do anything meaningful with friends.

 

 The second is to Monitor player to player interaction watching for multi abuse behavior. This one sucks because action can only be taken on multi abusers after a human analysis the behavior and determines it to be multi abuse, it can also make it more difficult for generous players to feel safe giving welcome packages, or for clans to work together as those types of actions would be flagged by the monitoring algorithm. It also leads to every single multi abuser banned starting a forum thread about how it's unfair that they can't play the game with their "family".



#18 ferrous   Members   -  Reputation: 1446

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 05:56 PM

Design the game such that new accounts are at a disadvantage?  New accounts for example, can't trade any of their starting resources.  That at least prevents the case of someone creating multiple new accounts and then just sending the default resources over to their main account.

 

Repeat trade taxes?, so an account that constantly gives resources to another account does so at a higher and higher tax rate.  This goes down if the other account trades a resource to the original account.  (Example:  Player A has 100 Iron, trades 100, gets taxed 10 for the trade, then generates another 100, then tries to trade it again, gets taxed 20, and so on until only a trickling amount of iron gets to Player B, until Player B actually gives some sort of resource to Player A, and even then it only resets up by an amount that is traded, so they can't just give 1 wood to Player B and have the tax reset to 0)

 

If it's a game about killing other players, assign players a worth.  New players are invulnerable or worth negative points to kill.  Killing the same player repeatedly is worth less and less to the killer, even to the point of being negative.  That should help stop battleground honor abuse.


Edited by ferrous, 06 December 2013 - 05:57 PM.





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