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Unduli

Good old multi account problem

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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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)

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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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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

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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

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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. 

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