by Max Barry

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by The predator scandal. . 737 reads.

The Predator Scandal

On Friday, March 18, 2016, it was announced that the update tool known as Predator (popular amongst many raiders) violated the rate limitation and user agent script rules, making it's use a breach of site rules. As stated by Tech Modling Eluvatar, Predator, "not only breaks site rules, but appears to be explicitly designed to do so."

Briefly after the announcement, the ex-player known as Cora III openly admitted to being aware that the tool was in breach of site rules. Shortly after this, Cora was declared Delete on Sight, meaning that any nation he attempts to create will now be deleted, effectively banning him from the site. This response should convey just how serious this matter is.

Predator' Functions:
Like many other scripts, Predator is designed to provide its user with estimated update times, allowing for more precise jumping, meaning that it makes it easier to both raid/liberate a region without allowing interference from the delegate, regional officers or third parties, and raid/liberate multiple regions per update.

There are many update tools, such as Friar Tuck's and ELITE, that do the similar function to Predator, but are perfectly legal. What separates Predator from other scripts is not its function, but the speed with which it extracts information from the site, allowing its users to have infinitely more accurate update time predictions. The function that allows it to garner such accurate data is exactly what makes it illegal.

Another aspect of Predator that makes it illegal is that in order to use it, a player must be able to connect to the personal server of the DOS player known as Halcones (the founder of The Black Riders). In order to gain access to this server a player most contact a banned player to request access to the script.

Predator's History:
Designed by Halcones, Predator was introduced to gameplay between late 2013 and early 2014. It was used as the main script of the now defunct raider group known as The Black Riders. In April 2015, Halcones was declared Delete on Sight for the use of an illegal recruitment script, and The Black Riders was dissolved, with many members moving to the region known as DEN.

Due to its superiority to all other update tools, Predator continued to be the standard script used by DEN. After several months, DEN began distributing the tool known as ELITE, which was not as accurate, but was easier to use for those unfamiliar with scripts.

Despite it not being the official update tool of DEN any longer, many older raiders continued to use Predator. While DEN has not pushed for new players to use Predator for months, it made no official attempt to ban it, or even discourage it's use, despite the fact that it was know that the tool had been written by a player who was DOSed for using illegal scripts.

Unfortunately, over the past 2 months there has been a resurgence in the use of Predator, as a very successful, but unauthorized, recruitment campaign had brought in a wave of new raiders in DEN. The script was praised by the player known as Cora, whom many of these young raiders saw as a trustworthy superior (despite the fact that he was formally banned from DEN, TBH, and nearly every other raider organization), and was distributed to them by Halcones, who despite his DOS status, was still an active member of the "Cimmerian Raid Chat", a mercenary organization that had heavy cross membership with DEN. Many DEN officials (including myself) were aware of this, but did nothing to stop what was clearly suspicious behavior.

On Friday, March 18, 2016, Predator was declared illegal, after a moderator investigation that spanned the course of several days. At the time of this article's writing only one DOS has been handed out, along with several puppet sweeps. After a moderator instructed that anyone with information regarding Predator should confess via GHR. It was later released that at least 27 individuals submitted GHRs regarding Predator (it is important to note that this is not the number of people who have used the script, but those who had information on it).

The Scope of the Scandal:
It is important to note that:
- Only a small percentage of the members of DEN have used Predator before. However, while not all of DEN is guilty of using an illegal script, it is guilty of doing nothing to stop it's use.

- A majority of the players who used Predator were not aware that the script was illegal. Many of them were young raiders who were taken advantage of by a player they trusted, who has admitted to knowing all along that the script was not compliant with site rules.

-The in total, from what I (the author) have heard, there were between 14 and 18 players who had access to Predator, a few of whom have never used it before. However, many players who have participated in DEN tag raids over the past few months has likely been the unwitting participant in a Predator triggered raid.

-The use of Predator was not isolated to DEN, as it is known to be used by individual players from several other organizations. However, DEN is the only organization that has at any time openly advocated for it's use.

-Several defenders have stated that they gained access to a copy of Predator's source code in order to go over and check it for illegalities. Their investigation found nothing worthy of Moderator attention, meaning that the argument that the raiders who were unaware of the script's illegal functions should have checked it is faulty. It took the admins of the site several days to determine that the script was illegal, meaning that assuming a player could do so unjustified.

-However, the fact of the matter is that DEN was aware that in order to gain access to the script, a player needed to ask a DOS player, who was banned for illegal scripts, if they could use the script that they had written. It doesn't take a brain scientist or rocket surgeon to figure out that why the assumption of legality was incredibly stupid.

-DEN has never used Predator to launch an occupation. It is exclusively a tool used for tag raiding.

What This Means:
I myself am a raider, and I feel that I cannot accurately convey what this means with the emotion that is really required to do so. I have quoted a well known deefender below, as he describes exactly what all this means.

So now that it has basically been confirmed that invaders have been cheating for quite a sustained period of time now, people have already begun to assume that those of us in the defender world have already begun celebrations and couldn't be happier. Let me correct that highly mistaken state of mind. We're pissed.

Do you know how long I've been struggling to keep up and play this game that turns out to have been entirely unfair? If you do, please tell me, because I have no idea how much of my career has been spent, wasted trying to combat those who aren't even playing by the same ruleset as I. How many NationStates communities have been ruined by at the hands of this widespread cheating? How many times have I been told to try harder and to adapt to this game while you didn't even have the decency to play this game fairly?

Those of you responsible for this or knowingly benefited from this tool, I want you know that I believe you to be dirty rotten cheaters and this sin is unforgivable.

And I already know how the skilled and clever politicians throughout the invader world are going to paint this. You're going to say that this was just a few rotten apples and that the rest of you are upstanding gameplay citizens. Bullshit. How many of you knew about the true nature of the tool known as Predator or the circumstances in which it was supported and how long did you know? How many of you had suspicions, but never looked into it nor reported it?

The majority, if not all, of the major invader organizations have used this tool or have members that have used this tool, or have been a part of operations that have utilized this tool. You all have worked with these individuals. You've crafted alliances with the perpetrators and you've supported their occupations. Some of you are already looking to take in those who are going to be left behind by the soon to be deleted raiders. You're going to put all of the blame on those like Cora and look to sweep this under the rug. If you had an ounce of respect for those of us deprived of a fair NationStates experience you should relinquish ties with these unapologetic cheaters and treat them like the pariahs they should be. I don't think any of you who call yourselves raiders or independents are brave enough to do the right thing and punish the TBR/DEN community for their crimes.

Moderation is probably going to let many of you who have directly used Predator off the hook too. There's just too many of you. You're too big to be punished. Whether you've accessed Predator or have been a part of operations triggered by Predator, you've benefited from this cheating. It was staggeringly widespread and long-used. All of invaderdom has benefited from Predator. You either benefited from operations that utilized predator, or assisted those that used it to destroy regions. You've had cheaters supporting your own occupations. You've benefited from the failing defender morale that is directly linked to this game-breaking program. Your unfair and judgmental propaganda against those like me is directly built on gains your side has made on the backs of Halcones and his lackeys.

To Cora, you're a goddamn coward. After all this time holding me as a standard of what a gameplayer should be, you're not even going to give me the dignity of playing a more fair game with you. You'd rather be deleted than to give up your unfair advantages. You don't respect me as a fellow gameplayer and you never did. You're not even man enough to apologize for robbing me of a fair playing experience over the past months/years.

This showcases a sickness that is evident in the invader world. You've historically have ruined the experience of other NS players in the pursuit of a "victory" in this game. The desire to be a "winner" in today's gameplay has gotten to be so bad, that you're willing to shed all prior morality to achieve it. Breaking the site rules, playing alongside abhorrent and sometimes DOS players, abandoning prior commitments to not partake in region destroying / griefing, and choosing to work with those do these things while claiming that you represent a different set of values.

The natives and defenders of Nationstates have been crying foul for quite a sustained period of time. We should be fully vindicated, but we're going to be deprived of that. Too many invaders have participated, whether knowingly or unknowingly, in this plot to subvert the rules. So many that the mods are going to be forced to be lenient. There's going to be no widespread punishment on those who invade, even though you get continually caught cheating. This isn't like the LKE's misfortune where one member cheated on their behalf without their notice. People knew what was going on.

Invader mouthpieces, in a scramble to protect their image, aren't even going to take a minute to recognize those of us who have been struggling to compete against this. The invaders and the mods are just going to ask the natives and defenders to move along as if though nothing happened. Thousands of regions invaded. Many communities destroyed. Hundreds of hours spent playing against those who weren't even playing by the same rule set. We're not going to get any of that back. No regions will be magically unruined and no time can be given back. The most we're going to get is a "sorry, not sorry".

I donít really know how to finish this post, so I guess Iíll just congratulate everyone that made it this far. At least youíre trying to understand. Before you work on your responses Iíll say a few more things:

  • I know that not all of you have directly participated in this cheating. I also know that there are some brave players that have acted against the cheaters or rallied against the use of Predator. You have my respect.

  • I know that some of you cheated without ever really knowing it. While I feel sorry that you potentially face moderator action because someone took advantage of your trust, donít expect me to view you as a victim. You still cheated.

  • The big occupations. I believe that Predator was used mostly for small operations. You set good triggers and probably earned large occupation invasions fairly. Just know that every small invasion facilitated by Predator could, and has, lead to an occupation. The constant flood of these raids makes it all the harder to spot when an occupation is about to begin and it dissuaded defenders from actively engaging in update activities.

In short, despite the fact that it was for most part unintentional, many raiders have been cheating for about 2 years, which has not only resulted in thousands of tag raids that should never have happened, but in the demoralization of defenders, many of whom quit defending due to the impossibility of keeping up with raiders. Now that it has been discovered that it was impossible because many of said raiders were cheating, it is becoming clear that the use of this tool has directly led to the dismal state of NationStates Gameplay, as well as the imbalance between raiding and defending. The use of this tool is directly responsible for many players quitting the game, and has been a contributing factor in the strife many players have gone through at the hands of raiders.

I hope this dispatch has been informative.

The predator scandal