EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

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EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

Post by Pedro-NF » Wed Oct 05, 2011 2:25 pm

EvenBalance has discontinued support for ET. This means no new PB GUID's will be generated and so new ET installs will have no etkey file and, consequently, no GUID. PBBans has already announced that, without new GUID's, they can't mantain support for ET either, a decision which will certainly be followed by PunksBusted:

http://www.pbbans.com/forums/pb-support ... id__381236

I couldn't care less about EvenBalance's PB cheat checks for ET, as they had already stopped any work on that years ago, but PBBans and PunksBusted support will be missed, since most cheaters are caught by their checks.

My main immediate concern, however, is this: in the Jaymod admin system everything about players - XP's, skills, bans, admin levels, etc. - is associated with their PB GUID's, so what are we supposed to do now that lots of players will simply have NO GUID's? For a long time admins have been asking for some other type of (PB independent) GUID for the mod, but those requests were always systematically denied by Jaybird for this or that reason.

I'm all ears...


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Re: EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

Post by Ligustah » Thu Oct 06, 2011 3:12 am

I have never been a fan of PB's GUID system either. It's ridiculously easy to circumvent.
The spoofing has been talked about (more or less) here already: http://jaymod.clanfu.org/forums/viewtop ... f=3&t=9483

However, they never really came up with a solution, but only said Enhanced Mod would fix this
(which is certainly wrong, because the client can spoof whatever he wants).

Seems like the community will have to come up with a good solution here.
If not, ET will be a lot less enjoyable for both admins (banning, levels, etc) and players (xp save, levels).

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Re: EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

Post by Pedro-NF » Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:39 am

Ligustah wrote:but only said Enhanced Mod would fix this
Just a note here, the Enhanced Mod has no relation whatsoever with EvenBalance (PunkBuster developers). It's an individual effort by RedSector from the EqualOne ([=1]) clan. During the 2 years Jaybird was absent due to his decision to stop developing the mod, RedSector reverse engineered some of Jaymod's code to fix a lot of vulnerabilities and implement lots of features in the mod. Of course Jaybird mustn't have liked that because Jaymod is not open source, and modifying its code without his authorization could even be deemed illegal, but that's what kept the mod alive during those years and saved us server admins from a lot of trouble, so if Jaybird ever decides to sue RedSector, I'll be willing to put in a grand or ten to help sponsor his defense.

The simplest alternative here is rather obvious: to implement a mod specific GUID and adapt the admin system to work with that GUID instead of the PB GUID. That of course only solves the issues we're gonna have with XP's/skills, bans and admin levels, but does not address anti cheating. For that, working with people from other mods and projects (like SLAC and TZAC) will be necessary.

While the situation develops, people needing a PB GUID can generate an etkey file by following these steps (thanks to my referee DasBoot for coming up with this idea and confirming it works):

1 - Get a GUID at http://www.guidgenerator.com/online-guid-generator.aspx (Note: this is NOT a PB format GUID, which consists of 32 hexadecimal (0-F) characters, it will just be used as the seed for the actual PB GUID generation).
2 - Create a new text document in your etmain folder using any text editor like NotePad or WordPad.
3 - Paste the GUID in the text document, save and close it.
4 - Rename the file to etkey, removing the .txt from the end of the file name. You will be prompted if you want to allow the file change extension - just click YES.

The PB server that runs along with the game server on the server host will generate a GUID in the PB format from this etkey file which can be used normally. The possibility of 2 identical GUID's being generated is infinitesimal.

This workaround will work just for as long as PBSETUP still works and updates the client's PB files to the latest version. If/when it stops working, other steps will be necessary, like maybe new players having to download some file with the contents of an updated client's pb directory (so that the client PB version won't conflict with the game server version), or servers downgrading to the PB version installed by the 2.60b patch (I didn't test this and don't know if it will work).

I'd like to address a few words to the people at EvenBalance and Activision, but that will involve some heavy swearing and other inappropriate comments, so I'll post it on my own forum's topic (link two posts above).

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Re: EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

Post by jaybird » Thu Oct 06, 2011 7:25 am

I'm at a loss as to why I would sue him. I'm not happy with a couple of the things he's added because I specifically did not want them in the mod, but I'm glad he got some of the exploits fixed.

It's a real shame that EvenBalance dropped support, but at the same time, the game is 7 or 8 years old.

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Re: EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

Post by Pedro-NF » Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:19 am

jaybird wrote:I'm at a loss as to why I would sue him. I'm not happy with a couple of the things he's added because I specifically did not want them in the mod, but I'm glad he got some of the exploits fixed.
Great, I'll save my money then. 8)
jaybird wrote:It's a real shame that EvenBalance dropped support, but at the same time, the game is 7 or 8 years old.
Shame is the precise word. Shame on them for being the hypocrites that they have always been about ET. The game celebrated its 8th anniversary a few months ago, and is very much alive and kicking and actually expanding its player base, to the certain utter displeasure of Acti-fubar-vision who must be moving mountains to try to kill it. I will die believing EvenBalance got paid by Activision to help (try to) kill the game that just won't die. To HELL with all of them.

Back to Jaymod, can we hope for mod specific GUID's (or something like that) and the admin system adapted to them?

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Re: EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

Post by jaybird » Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:28 am

What I'm hoping happens is someone develops an engine mod now that PB is gone. I always thought such a community developed version of the engine would never work since PB would be excluded, but since that's been forced on us, well... :)

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Re: EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

Post by Sippenhaft » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:06 pm

:x
Last edited by Sippenhaft on Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

Post by hellreturn » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:25 pm

Sippenhaft wrote:Send an email to research@evenbalance.com and ask them to keep the authentication servers running until the gaming community can figure this out! I did already.
I don't think they will... $$ stops from Activision, support stops. Who knows activision might counter sue them for using their name or something even after contract is expired?

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Re: EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

Post by Dragon » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:59 pm

And the biggest nonsense is:

The dead game Wolfenstein (2009) is still supported while W:ET with a very big community around cannot be supported anymore...

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Re: EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

Post by Pedro-NF » Thu Oct 06, 2011 3:42 pm

hellreturn wrote:
Sippenhaft wrote:Send an email to research@evenbalance.com and ask them to keep the authentication servers running until the gaming community can figure this out! I did already.
I don't think they will... $$ stops from Activision, support stops. Who knows activision might counter sue them for using their name or something even after contract is expired?
Of course they won't put the auth servers back online. As I said before, there was obviously money involved in this and pressure from Activision, maybe even something like "either you drop support for these games or you won't get any more contracts from us". EvenBalance couldn't possibly come up with some excuse like "we can't afford to support ET anymore now that we're no longer being paid for it". The cost of the type of "support" they have offered ET in the last years is absolutely negligible, nothing more than the authentication servers and generic client and server updates which caused more harm than helped, with NO research at all on new cheats, so that would be a really lame excuse.

Now about Activision sueing them just for keeping some minimal support for a game, that wouldn't be legally viable if based solely on the mention of Activision's brands, otherwise they would already have sued the people behind SLAC, TZAC, and of course, PBBans and PunksBusted, for running their own independent anti cheat systems. What Activision probably did was to include clauses in their contracts with EB clearly forbidding them to continue support for each game when they were told by Activision to stop. I don't know if this type of clause would still be valid after the expiration of the contract for a specific game's PB support, but that's probably where the above mentioned "pressure" enters the scene.

My quirk with EvenBalance is that they say all the time in interviews that they do what they do for the sake of the gamers, never admitting that they earn big money to do that, always trying to look like the Madre Teresa of gaming. Eff them.

Any solutions to the 3 main problems we'll be facing - player identification, cheat detection and server listing - will have to come exclusively from the ET community from now on, and I'm pretty confident that good solutions will start appearing soon. The game's code became open source since August 2010, something essential if deeper modifications are needed to accomodate any necessary adjustments. We might even end up better off without PunkBuster, who knows?

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Re: EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

Post by Pedro-NF » Thu Oct 06, 2011 3:49 pm

I just loved this announcement from the Trackbase team. They're doing their part as I'm hoping everyone else will do theirs, to the extent of their possibilities and abilities.

"Dear Public,

As you all have seen, PunkBuster does not register any new guid's anymore. Evenbalance decided they don't like ET players anymore because they can't get any money out of it. There is a discussion thread about this HERE.

We do not see any other options then encourage people to disable PunkBuster on their servers to make sure new ET players can keep playing the game with the same fun we have. This would lead into thousands of extra non-rated sessions and it would be impossible to rate anymore. Therefore we have decided to enable rating globally for EVERY SERVER. Servers known for it's cheaters utopia will be blocked from rating & ranking. So keep that in mind.

If you see any cheater playing please videotape them as we will make sure their rating will be disabled.

Hope this will sufficiently inform you all on this very sad day.

Regards,

The Trackbase Team"


http://forum.trackbase.net/threads/843- ... PROTECTION

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Re: EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

Post by Sippenhaft » Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:04 pm

Simple temp ideas...

When you play the game, a generic key is created. So the way I see it, everyone would just have the same key.
So everyone can still play, and you can still run cheat checks on the server. Any cheaters would just be locally banned.

As for XP and stuff...yeah thats an issue if everyone has the same key....

So maybe just a simple key generator for jaymod?
Make the mod check for a "jay-key" and create one if it does not have one.

Just thoughts.
Sad day :cry:
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Re: EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

Post by Pedro-NF » Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:06 pm

Sippenhaft wrote:When you play the game, a generic key is created. So the way I see it, everyone would just have the same key.
So everyone can still play, and you can still run cheat checks on the server. Any cheaters would just be locally banned.
No generic key is created - without an etkey file, you just get an empty PB GUID. Without a unique player identifier, all you can do is mute or kick a player, but the mute would be gone when he reconnected. The only way to ban players would be by IP, which is unpractical.
Sippenhaft wrote:So maybe just a simple key generator for jaymod?
Make the mod check for a "jay-key" and create one if it does not have one.
I had the exact same idea but didn't mention it because Jaybird doesn't seem too inspired to make changes in the mod right now. :roll:

Jaymod would check for the presence of the "jaykey" file in the jaymod directory, and would create one if none existed. If I'm not mistaken, the admin system uses the value of the Cvar cl_guid for player identification, and that Cvar defaults to the PB GUID value. It would then be a simple matter of making cl_guid default to the jaykey value instead and no changes to the admin system code would be needed.

That of course would just be a temporary workaround for player identification till someone comes up with a more encompassing solution.

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Re: EvenBalance PB support for ET ended (and consequences)

Post by Pedro-NF » Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:19 pm

I was starting to write a little program to create an etkey file but someone already wrote a script for that.

From schnoog's post on the Splash Damage forums:

"As an immediate measure I started up the site http://etkey.org which allows to get a unique ETKEY
The design is very very beta ;) But it works at least for server not configured to ban GUIDs not reached a minimum age"

http://www.splashdamage.com/forums/show ... post380784

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