Hacker claims to have made a living cheating in MMOs for two decades

    
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All right, the Lopp have some chops here too.

Motherboard has a fun-slash-depressing piece out this week on an unnamed hacker who claims he’s been cheating at MMORPGs to make a living for almost two decades.

Prior to his recent Def Con hacking conference talk, the hacker dubbed “Manfred” seemingly demoed via video a hack performed in WildStar, one he used to help him accrue nearly 400 trillion gold, which he then allegedly sold to players through various black markets. He argues he wasn’t hacking — he was providing a service by “finding unintended features in the protocol.”

At least some of his claims don’t even seem particularly outlandish, especially if you’ve been around in MMORPGs for a long time and have an understanding of how rampant duping and RMT markets have been over the last 20 years. Manfred claims he got his start in Ultima Online illegally deleting other players’ houses and selling his own on Ebay, funding his days in college. Since then, Motherboard says, he cheated and duped his way through the “wild west” of Lineage 2, Shadowbane, Final Fantasy XI, Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of The Rings Online, RIFT, Age of Conan, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Guild Wars 2.

He doesn’t participate in the underground cheater industry anymore, he claims, having gone legit. While he says it’s because he “wasn’t comfortable doing what [he] was doing,” it’s also at least partly a result of the changing business model for online games.

“Now that many companies make money using in-game purchases, he doesn’t think it’s fair to compete with their economic strategies,” Motherboard writes. And it’s true: The studios found one small way to deal with cheaters. But everyone else? Yeah, we still pay the same, just to a different source.

Source: Motherboard. Cheers, Kinya!
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Veldan

Most amount of money I ever made, and actually the only time I ever made money, is when I sold my Aion account for 250 euros. I didn’t really consider that an immoral thing, nobody else in the game will know the difference between me or some random dude playing that char. And since it was after F2P, the devs didn’t even miss out on box purchase money.

Hacking, cheating and farming to RMT though… that all goes way too far in my opinion. I’m about as likely to do those as I am to steal irl. If you exploit them to make lots of money, you’re a criminal in my book.

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Armsbend

I don’t find that morally an issue at all. You earned it and it is a one off and no where did you cheat or ruin someone else’s experience. Making a living destroying someone else’s coding is a different animal. Just because you can’t touch it doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Developers spend literal years in hours creating something – it’s no different than being a car thief or anything else nefarious.

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Tandor

Having read just a few of the descriptions here of what this guy has done over the years it’s pretty clear that his actions have made him a lot of money illicitly (and almost certainly while dodging taxes into the bargain) while ruining a lot of things for multiple developers and their genuine customers. Why would anyone want to give him the oxygen of publicity (which is probably what he craves more than the money)?

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John Bagnoli

Huh. I would have never thought making money on that scale possible doing this. I guess I play games to have fun, such a chump.

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Sray

Fun? FUN? This is video gamez n00b! There is no fun!

;-)

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Schlag Sweetleaf

.

naughty boy.gif
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Armsbend

Assdog is mesmerizing.

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Reht

I normally don’t do the +1 type of post, but that gave me a good chuckle Armsbend!

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Utakata

…that’s not a dog doing what I think it’s doing. But rather dog trying to moonwalk across a carpeted floor to a funky beat while trying to sit at the same time…err, leaving brown embedded contrails in its wake! /eww :(

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A Dad Supreme

Well, at least he came clean on hacking and making lots of money off of it.

Now if we can only get the IRS to believe his story…

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Armsbend

You know we could all probably make a living stealing or cheating. Maybe killing a person here and there for money. The big difference is some people are human filth and some people aren’t. There is right and there is wrong.

Just because you do it at games doesn’t mean you aren’t bottom of the barrel sub-human filth. I’m sure my virtue of typing that delights them to no end so whatevs.

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Fisty

Funny. I’ve never met a person who always did what was right.

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Armsbend

I do not associate with anyone who makes a living from cheating.

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DoomSayer

The sad thing is the Wildstar Devs could spend about 1 hour (I say this because I have written database reports, something like this should be easy) to create a report that shows large increases in money to accounts over a certain period of time (like 24 hours) and take the top 10 and have the money tracked down by a QA person. People who cheat should stick out big time.

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Arktouros

The thing is you find out what that number is and you keep under that limit on your IP/account by kinda throwing away other accounts. So one IP/account you’d generate 500g/day and see if that set off any alarms for a month or two while working on lower increments (one IP/account at 400g/day, another at 50g/day etc) and see which ones get caught.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

The thing that really sucks about this is how much people like him have altered game design and made games less fun because of the security measures that game makers have had to take to protect their IP.

Bums me out.

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Shiro Madoushi

This Manfred guy is actually kind of an urban legend in MMOs. I have heard about him more than once over the years. This story lines up with many of the tales I have heard about him. The shadowbane hack was well known. I had also heard about the UO house deleting. He even deleted all the houses on every UO server that forced them to take the game down for days to investigate and roll them back even further.

Some of the other things I heard about Manfred

UO:
He could instantly kill you in UO with a purple potion.
He could make his boat in UO fly over yours so that he could loot it.
He could dupe anything in UO.
He could steal any item you had in UO.
He could delete your guild stone which also deleted your guild.
Everquest:
He could solo things that took a raid to kill.
He could loot every corpse on the server from any distance.
Anarchy Online:
He had full GM powers.
He could create any item he wanted.
He could imprison other players like a GM to scare them.
Shadowbane:
Full GM Powers
The infamous Shadowbane hack.
He owned a city made of gold. Literally billions of gold.
Dark Age of Camelot:
He could teleport to your keeps in the RvR areas and capture them.
If you bought platinum it came from him.
World of Warcraft:
He was able to solo 40 man raid dungeons.
He could kill you in 1 hit during battlegrounds.
He would change names to avoid GMs

I think he was more careful after WoW because the name manfred wasn’t mentioned as much.

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styopa

I’d heard of him too, but it’s always made me wonder how games could possibly be written with so little regard/recognition of such hacks that they don’t have at least SOME error-checking loops in the code, like procedural checksums, to help identify such players.

Like soloing raid bosses: If playercount 1.1x total.player.wealth yesterday, send to GM review.
If player x2,y2,z2 – player x1,y1,z1 > (100 units or whatever is a game-allowed distance of travel between ticks) and hearthstone/teleporter/whatever wasn’t used, send to GM review.

And if the cheat is detected, ban the identity, login, and mac address of the cheater.

It’s not as if the devs don’t have PERFECT RECORDS of everything ever done, ever, by anyone in their game?

Then again, maybe they sometimes do have the information on such players, and let them run just to find all the holes in the code.

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Siphaed

GM’s don’t. The developers do. The developers have specific software set up that allows the GM’s limited control within their software. But they’re not about to give mid-level CUSTOMER SERVICE individuals access to the game’s entire source code. Because that would be foolish just based on the average turn over rate for customer service jobs. They’re usually low paying -even in tech fields- and have to put up with a lot of angry customers that are either in a bad spot or are trying to manipulate a situation to get what they do not deserve.

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Stropp

It sounds to me more like he managed to get access to GM/Dev codes or logins that allowed him to perform these actions.

Corpse looting for instance is only available to the player who owns the corpse or is given access to it by the owner. Unless you’re a GM helping a player who is stuck due to a bug. Then the code needs to allow that to happen.

There’s very likely server code that disallows players, but not GMs otherwise the GMs couldn’t do their jobs.

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Dan

I sold/ebay’d castles on every server in UO in prime real estate locations in its heyday. I was in my mid-twenties and made more money doing that for a year, then what my full-time lucrative salaried job was paying me.