Back in the day when the original PlayStation had just been launched and PC games were still quite simple, game hacking was very different. There hasn’t been a time in history when there were video games and there weren’t people trying to figure ways around the regular gameplay. In some way or another people have always been able to hack into video games, even if that meant just being able to pay an extra round for free by exploiting the token machine for the arcade game.
Recently, in the past decade, games have not only changed in terms of format and dynamics of the gameplay, but the same engines that were used to design relatively straightforward games in the past have evolved into things that are completely different from the technology of the past. One of the biggest reasons for this change has been the hardware and technology that powers video games.
This can be seen as a chicken and egg problem as both things do tend to evolve side by side but some technological changes stand completely separate from video game development. For instance, smartphones and wireless gaming devices are things that weren’t developed primarily for gaming purposes but video game developers soon figured out ways to expand to these platforms and use these technologies to build their video game offerings further.
Cheating and game hacking is still very popular, but it is nothing like it was in the past, especially for PC games. To hack a video game on Windows 95 or even XP, it was just a matter of inputting a few commands, and voilà! If you wanted unlimited resources, unlimited health, hidden cars, or special powers, you had it. Even though it was considered cheating, the consequences were not quite as significant as they are today.
Modern game hacking is not only more complex than it was in the past, but it’s also much quicker today. Not quick to carry out, but quick to spread. Battlefield is one of the most well-known and widely-played first-person shooter games of all time. The first entry in the Battlefield line-up was released nearly 20 years ago and this year we have seen the 17th version of Battlefield unfold. What’s more interesting is that even before Battlefield 2042 was released, cheats for the game were surfacing on the internet. Whether that was cheats that improved health, exposed enemy locations, or allowed a player more covertly throughout the map, it was all available months before the game was out.
For game developers and players alike, this was quite disturbing and upsetting to see, though it’s not something they would not have forecasted. With so many titles already out and countless cheats to be applied on the different games, the Battlefield developers and the audience were already well aware that the latest entry to the Battlefield line-up will also be a target of game manipulation. Call Of Duty is another very popular first-person shooter game available across multiple platforms and their latest offering for 2021, COD Vanguard was also victim to the same problem. Before the game had been released, cheats were already circulating for the game.
When games are thwarted with cheats as easily as this there are a few different problems. The first is that people become less likely to play the game when they know that they are playing against unfair competition. In some cases the cheats are hard to detect, in others, they are completely obvious. In the latter, players quickly stop playing the game altogether or at least no longer remain that interested. A bigger problem for developers is that not only do people stop playing but people become significantly less likely to spend money on in-game purchases. There is little point in improving your weapons or your abilities when you are up against someone who has exploited the game and is playing at a level that can’t be matched with any amount of upgrades.
A number of modern games are played in a tournament format, a trend that is picking up momentum as online gaming and multiplayer gaming become more popular. One of the oldest and most well-known titles that are commonly played in esports tournaments is Tekken. As Tekken is a first-person fighter game there isn’t a lot that can be hacked and only so much that can be tweaked. Though in the case of first-person shooter games or games that are based on probability like online gambling, game hacking has a lot of scopes. If the problem gets out of hand, there would be no reason to allow these titles to be played in tournaments when there is no way to keep cheaters out.
In a recent study, nearly 80% of all respondents said that they have had to face some form of game hacking in the past. This is an alarmingly high ratio. If developers can’t find a way to keep hackers out and keep their games fair and fun, there is little scope for growth in the future.
Modern PC Cheats
The bulk of modern cheats for PC games are geared towards either first-person shooter games or probability games. There are a few cheats that also work for strategy games but those are more about being able to exploit the system for resources rather than actually enhancing the players’ ability. Here are some of the ways you can cheat your way to doing what you want to do in your favorite video game.
1. Cheat Engines
In a nutshell, a cheat engine is a software that has the ability to modify the operations of another software, in this case, video games. Cheat engines are designed in such a way that they have the ability to scan the executable file of the video game that you want to modify, cheat or hack. In doing so, the cheat engine is able to identify the exact memory that is dedicated to a certain aspect of the game. For instance, if you wanted to have unlimited ammo, the cheat will find the part of the executable file that governs the ammunition status of a weapon and make changes to suit your needs. In this way, any and all parts of a game can be hacked.
To put this in perspective, nearly all aspects of the game will have some kind of value associated with it. For instance, the health of the character might show up as a bar when you are playing the game but in the code, it is a numeric value. As you lose health that value decreases and increases as you gain health. If you are trying to get a higher level of health than what is otherwise possible in the game your aim will be to modify that value through the Cheat Engine. How it works is that you will scan the game, through the cheat engine, for that value. Once you have found it, you will replace it with a value of your liking. If the maximum health is 100, you can make it 10,000 and be nearly immortal. Once the new value is set, you go back to the game and the changes will have taken effect.
2. Value Types
While the process is quite simple in theory, it can be a little more complicated when you get around to really doing it. This is because the numbers that you are looking for are not always conveniently placed in 4-byte formats. Game developers realize that number manipulation is an easy way to modify the game characteristics so they will make it as hard as possible for hackers to find and change these values. There are different value types that you might have to figure out including string values, float values, double float values, and others.
If you can figure out what kind of value is being used then you can easily modify it and achieve the results that you need. The problem isn’t changing values, it’s figuring out which values need to be changed. Other than the difference in value types, some values are repetitive. For instance, the number ‘100’ might be used for more than one variable in the game. When you search for it you might come up with half a dozen results that are all based on the number ‘100’.
3. Encrypted Values
Some developers will take the security even a step further by employing various data encryption tools to make it even harder to find the appropriate number. The same value that is represented by the number 100 could be represented by a much bigger or a much smaller number. In most cases, this is going to be relatively easy to figure out but it is just an additional process. According to the coders at IWantCheats the encrypted values are going to be multiples of the original value. So instead of showing 100 as your health, it might show 1000, or 500. If you have the game, you can easily make changes to the game and see how this is reflected in the backend code. When you know where you are starting off from, it is very easy to find out the encryption protocol that is being used. The main thing to note is that when you make changes it has to be in the same ratio or rhythm of the multiple for it to have the desired effect.
As you might imagine the term bots is derived from robots and stems from the use of preprogrammed robots to carry out certain activities in a game. Back in the day, when you would face a big monster in Super Mario or play against the PC in Tekken, those were all bots that were programmed to behave a certain way in response to the player, you. For both developers and gamers, bots are an important part of the game. If you are looking to hack a game then you can make use of bots that will assist your gameplay. For most first-person shooter games, bots give you the ability to perform better. For instance, they can help you aim better, fire better, and even watch out for enemies more efficiently. For strategy games and MMORPG style games bots are usually used to do the boring parts of the game. If you need to mine something, you could have a bot do it rather than do it yourself. To achieve this you can either build your own bot or you can buy a premade one and load that into your game.
5. Interface Manipulation
Interface manipulation is something similar to a bot but it relies on macros rather than bots. Moreover, interface manipulation is something that you will come across more frequently in strategy and MMORPG-style games rather than first-person shooters. The idea is simple and this is to eliminate the boring parts of the game. How it’s done is by exploiting the user interface of the game. For instance, if you are playing a game that has five buttons, which you as a real user can only quick one at a time, a macro can do the same job, and might even be able to click multiple buttons at the same time.
Clicking multiple buttons might not be beneficial, but being able to manipulate the interface and the controls through a program can certainly be. If you need to click button A, 3 times every 3 hours, to achieve outcome G, then you are going to be spending a lot of time doing this. In most strategy games, repetitive tasks lead to earning some kind of reward, whether that is in-game money, a reward, or experience. In most cases, it is a combination of these things. By creating a macro, you can set these things on autopilot and your character will be earning the rewards automatically while you live life, or play other games.
While all of these strategies are used by players to exploit the game, the reasons that they have been developed are usually for troubleshooting or testing purposes. Game developers will use these tools to test different aspects of the game and see how the game reacts. Game developers are very familiar with these strategies and if you are caught using them you can not only be disqualified and banned from the game, but there can be real-life consequences. As was the case with a Lineage 2 player who was cashing out in-game rewards for real-world money. Before you attempt any of these, make sure you know what it could lead to, and you understand that it is a legal offence to manipulate games.