A lot of developers these days find themselves trying to put together solutions when it comes to stopping cheating in their games. But Valve may have just come up with the most elaborate solution to date when it comes to its immensely popular PC hit Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
A report from PC Gamer notes that Valve's effort against hackers in CS: GO has become "important, valuable work," to the point that it's had to create an incredible system to fight for fairness.
During a recent Game Developers Conference, Valve programmer John McDonald noted that deep learning techniques were applied when it came to stopping these cheaters. As a result, it created VACnet.
It sounds like a network where you'd sell vacuums, but, in truth, the system works alongside Overwatch to evaluate bad player behavior, with 1,700 active CPU's keeping an eye open for questionable tactics used within the game.
There are some "subtle" cheats that slip underneath the radar, according to McDonald, but aimbots were a starting point with the system, since they create "specific, easily-definable points" during rounds of CS: GO that makes it hard to lose.
Between VACnet actions and player reports, the banning of cheaters seems to be on the rise. And VACnet actually knows when a cheater is going back on their troublesome ways. "When a human submits a case to Overwatch, the likelihood that they get a conviction is only 15-30 percent, and that varies on a bunch of factors, like the time of the year, is the game on sale, is it spring break. There's a bunch of things but the point is human convictions are very low," says McDonald. "VACnet convictions are very high, when VACnet submits a case it convicts 80 to 95 percent of the time."
The service was actually introduced with CS: GO's 2v2 competitive mode earlier this month, with McDonald noting that "the conviction rate for that mode was 99 percent for a while, it was great. Cheaters didn't get the memo we were doing it, and players were super happy and we were just busting cheaters left and right. It felt so good."
And while VACnet is doing an admirable job in the game as a whole – and working alongside Overwatch – there's still other places where it can be used, even with non-Steam applications. "Deep learning is this sea-change technology for evolutionary behaviour," says McDonald. "We think that it is really helping us get developers off of the treadmill without impacting our customers in any way. Our customers are seeing fewer cheaters today than they have been, and the conversation around cheating has died down tremendously compared to where it was before we started this work."
You can read more about the system over at PC Gamer, but it definitely sounds like Valve is ready to put cheaters on notice. Beware the VACnet!
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is available now on PC, as well as Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.