THE PCG Q&A
Surely most of us have screen-peeked at some point in our lives. Or maybe in a desperate moment you’ve gone further and downloaded an aimbot or wallhack or the like? Maybe you just cheat in singleplayer games thanks to Cheat Engine or console commands or IDSPISPOPD? That doesn’t really count of course, but we’ll pretend it does so that those who aren’t despicable cheaters can provide an answer as well.
Have you ever been a dirty dang cheat in a game?
Here are our answers, plus a few from our forum.
Stevie Ward: One could argue if you’ve ever used a guidebook, googled a clue or had a sofa buddy say “Check that weird rock over there” that is, in some form, cheating. In reality a good new-player experience, decent in-game tutorials, and budgets for voiceover clue prompts on 2nd/3rd tries of things (“We need to try the other boxes!“) are hard to do well, so googling clues is the norm.
The other side to this is some designers want their games to be challenging. Some designers want you to try things over and over and over again with no easy mode to get that incredible feeling when something is mastered (Through The Fire and Flames Expert on Guitar Hero anyone?) but it also limits the amount of people who can enjoy and complete the thing you’ve made.
Games with incredibly hard time limits, difficult keybindings and long combos, although designed with good intentions, can be frustrating for neurodiverse folks or folks with physical disabilities. In these instances cheats, in-game tweaks and hardness/accessibility settings (like the amazing work Specialeffect do to modify games for people with physical disabilities or colourblind settings built in by developers) are super important and should be considered by every company before they lock features.
You could also argue that if a developer or player provides you with clues be they online or elsewhere, it is indeed part of the game itself. Until games are more able to flexibly adapt their hardness level and accessibility to truly and intuitively make their games fun AND challenging for a wide group of people, I think this will always be the case.
The main crux of this being if the tools you use are against the intentions of the developer (illegal hacks, tournament fixing, server hassle against the terms of service to throw fleet fights or matches, unintended exploits to get weapons, XP or spawn points) it’s likely that these mods either hurt the experience for others (especially if the game is multiplayer) or take away from the experience intended for you. If the developers have really taken into consideration who ”You” are.
Robin Valentine: I really don’t have much of a history of cheating. As a kid, sure—I distinctly remember giving myself loads of free money in The Sims. But even back then I quickly noticed how boring things got when I didn’t have to earn my progress. These days I have absolutely zero interest in the likes of things like Cheat Engine, and even when it comes to tabletop games I’m a stickler for the rules. I think I just don’t have that curiosity to push the limits of the game to breaking, or to create chaos and see what happens—I’m a good little boy who just wants to play through the structure the developers have laid out for me. The teacher’s pet of PC gaming.
James Davenport: I grew up telling myself I was an adventure game-liker, but I didn’t finish many, if any at all, without a guide. I rarely have the same comedic sense as the designers, and solutions will often bend towards a punchline rather than a simple, logical solution, at least in older adventure games. So yeah, GameFAQs was a godsend. I only felt friction when I wanted to and still got to enjoy the writing, animation, and music we still celebrate today. Remorse doesn’t follow me around.
Tim Clark: I absolutely stream sniped someone on Twitch back when I was playing The Elder Scrolls Legends. I realised I was playing a mid-tier streamer and, uh, initially was curious to see what they were saying about my plays. Then, um, I just kinda stuck around. I think I drew like a god and would have won anyway, honest, but the streamer was being super salty about my luck so I just kinda… didn’t stop watching. Oh well. Judging by the reader reaction to our article on sniping from a few years back, plenty of you would have done the same.
Andy Chalk: I have no patience for boss fight bullshit, so I’ll cheat through them without regret if they get too onerous. I’ll usually give them a few tries but if I’m hung up on some nonsense that’s keeping me from getting back to a game I’m enjoying, then I’m going for a code or a trainer. Life’s too short for garbage progress blockers. I look up stuff on GameFAQs too, and I may—may—have used a console command or two to check out all the Witcher 3 endings.
Never cheated in multiplayer, though. Once you start messing with someone else’s experience, you’re out of bounds.
Andy Kelly: Remember SiN? Underrated FPS developed by Ritual (RIP), amazingly interactive environments, came out the same month as Half-Life, which was a bad idea. Anyway, I remember playing it back in ’98 and reaching a level set in some kind of underwater research lab. I just couldn’t beat this boring, maze-like level full of powerful enemies, so I used noclip and skipped past most of it. It’s the first time I ever did that, and I still vividly remember the feeling of disappointment in myself. I’ve cheated loads since, but that one moment sticks in my head for some reason.
Zloth: Why I would nev… oh, actually yeah, and recently. I was playing Troubleshooter: Abandoned Children and got a mission where two of my characters had to fight the other seven. Rough odds but you’re given a really good position and I was sure I could play my characters way better than some AI. See, look at that! Stupid AI is sending cute little Anne, our expert healer, out in front of everyone else!
So, naturally, I gunned her down. Then I got reminded of a skill I slotted for her called Vengeful Spirit. Anyone that KOs Anne becomes possessed so I can control them just like any of my other characters for three turns. Except now Anne is under AI control and the power I put in to punish any miserable cretin that would attack an innocent, young girl has now turned one of my two characters against the other – leading to a quick end and making me miserable. Worse yet, there’s no straightforward defense against the Vengeful Spirit power. There’s probably a way to confuse somebody on the other team and trick them into KO’ing Anne, or maybe I could send a pet out then un-summon the pet when it got possessed. I didn’t bother, though. I just switched Anne’s skill board to one that was currently empty.
Got an achievement for beating the mission on hard difficulty. It tasted like ash. (Mental note: stop eating achievements.)
OsaX Nymloth: Never ever cheated in online games, so every few times I got called a “hax” it was one of the proudest moments in gaming life.
I don’t remember every one of those, but I am sure I was called a hacker or dirty cheat bag (or any other form of such wonderful sweary word) in F.E.A.R. 2 multiplayer, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and StarCraft II. Notice the trend of “2” in those games? Yeah it makes me wonder too!
The second one was most confusing as my opponent and I were back then in rather low league (platinum or low diamond?) and it was probably during last months of Wings of Liberty, shortly before new expansion arrived. Somehow I used so many cloaked invisible units (Dark Templars) that my opponent decided there’s no way I could have made so many of them with the resources I have, thus he called me a resources hacker and said he will report me. Even if he did, obviously I was clear and I just had awful macro.
The FPS ones were always great. In F.E.A.R. 2 I was in a clan that was one of the strongest in the whole scene – not on the numbers side, as there were only few of us, but every one of us was worth a dozen of enemies. And it showed. The only enemies who would takes us on and be able to win where either other clan from North America that demanded we play on their host (thus with awful ping) and Russian one, that we strongly suspected had cheaters in them. Or maybe they were just so good? At this point I may never know.
And lastly for the Bad Company 2, still in same clan as before and well, let’s just say some of us had to play incognito – quite a big list of public servers straight up banned everybody with our clan tag approaching. Guess they were really sick of [clan_tag_here] player always being on the top of the list. And gods forbid if we showed up as a group. Instant kicks from admins. And yet none of us hacked. We were just spending awful lot of time playing together for years, we had no problem dealing with anything outside of the other elite players. In Clan Wars one of our “normal” strats was releasing our top player, let him charge enemies and just pick up any kills he may have left for us. Or not.
Damn those were good times. We started playing in ESL events, but shortly after starting them, the owner and foundator of the clan had to start studies and that cut his game time so much we were left in disarray and then promptly split up.
JCgames: Never, I don’t use cheat codes or console that did that sorta stuff. I did how ever get a weapon that someone made in star wars galaxies made with a cheat/exploit, but i never used it, i just hung it on the wall cause it was an awesomely powerful weapon. Was fun to check the stats.
It doesn’t bother me if people do it in sp games, sorta like mods, if it’s fun for you go for it. For me though i have more fun trying to play with in the rules of the game, and then add my own to make things harder.
Pifanjr: I’ve used a lot of cheats when I was a kid, but only in single player games. The only exception was when I was on a computer camp (a week of playing computer games and doing outdoor activities with other kids) and we were being taught how to play Starcraft. I had only played RTS games on easy or with cheats so far and one of the camp leaders was really good at it and would (playfully) boast he could take on all of us at the same time. So my friend and I thought it would be funny if we challenged him two vs one and use cheats to beat him.
They figured out pretty quickly we cheated and did think it was pretty funny, but also asked us and everyone else not to download cheat programs because they had no interest spending several hours scrubbing viruses from their network. Which they ended up having to do anyway that week, though I’m not sure that was because of us.
mjs warlord: The only pc cheat i have sometimes used is the no clip command in a dev console , this lets you do things like walk through solid walls , it is a life saver if you fall into a part of a game that you should not be in such as falling of a cliff without dying and no way back up , unless you got a decent save point. No clip should be used with caution because when turned off you could end up falling through a green screen loop.
With regards to actual cheats NO ! , a long time ago i put god mode into dragons age origins ultimate edition. I was stuck in a certain area and just could not do it. Obviously with god mode on i could not die but my party did , they could not respawn because i could not die and this actually made the game harder as i was not playing solo. What i did not realise was that the god mode was stuck in the registry so when i bought dragon age 2 and did import character from ultimate edition i also imported god mode so after my party in the first tough fight i had to do the entire game as a solo player …… it took me for ever.
badman: Never in online games. In SP games…oh boy. A lot. Anyone here who completed a Gobliiins game without using walkthroughs? Older adventure games could be hard.
Diablo 2: item generator (played it hours and hours, but some items were just too rare).
Doom 2: because…of course…We all wanted to see Romero’s head.