SOE Explains PlanetSide 2’s No-Exceptions Mod Policy

By Nathan Grayson on November 28th, 2012 at 8:00 am.

As you may have noticed, Jim’s been quite taken by PlanetSide 2. And when Jim gets taken by something, we at RPS make a policy of paying attention – even when that thing’s not some form of megalomaniacal game journo kidnapper. But, in spite of the supermassive time black hole’s distinctly PC lineage, mods have always been out of the question. Obviously, adding weapons and new shades of purple willy nilly would destroy the game, but what of simple interface tweaks and usability apps? Turns out, they’re also completely, 100 percent off-limits. But why? Well, the short version is – somewhat predictably – cheating.

SOE took to PlanetSide 2’s official forums to clarify its all-holds-barred stance on modding. The formidable creator/destroyer of worlds explained:

“It is vital that you not run software which modifies the Planetside 2 client in any way. If you do this, you are indistinguishable from various hacks that work in the same manner. The result of this is that you will be banned from gameplay and lose your characters/items.”

“We cannot make exceptions to this. We do understand there are relatively harmless apps that fall in this category, but if we allowed those they would simply be used as a shield excuse by players trying to cheat. This same rule applies to data that Planetside 2 uses for gameplay. Do not modify any of these files or attempt to modify them in memory.”

So it’s a matter of picking security and stability over customization. Which makes sense, given that cheaters and hackers can ruin an experience in a heartbeat – especially if they slither their sticky fingers into the whirring guts of a complex machine like PlanetSide 2. And while interface tweaks are probably a no-go for the foreseeable future, players will eventually be able to use SOE’s Player Studio to at least maybe get a shot at designing PS2 items/weapons. So it’s not like the longtime MMO maestro’s completely wrenched the steering wheel out of players’ hands.

Have you encountered dirty, no-good lawbreakers in PlanetSide 2, though? I mean, no game’s without cheaters – at least, not for long. And if/when that does happen, do you grit your teeth and bear it, or do you ride off angrily into the sunset – never looking back?

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80 Comments »

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  1. Wombats says:

    Seeing as the servers were lagging beyond playability I can only blow raspberries in the belly button of Planetside 2: Oh God Its Free But I’m Watching People Teleport in A Disco. Modded or not.
    Pffffffttttppppppppbbbbbffffffftttttttt!

    • Premium User Badge

      lurkalisk says:

      This is probably the most colourful way I’ve ever seen of saying “…eh“.

      • Wombats says:

        I was thinking more “This game does not work” check the tech support threads.

        • sinister agent says:

          If you check any tech support thread anywhere on the internet, nothing in the world works.

          • mouton says:

            And yet if you looked at enough support threads you can discern whether a game has, in fact, serious issues.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            actually the internet is the only place to get tech support. Books are immediately dated and tech support is just going to give you headaches. Knowledge Databases FTW!

        • zachdidit says:

          I’ve heard people complaining about server lag, but I’ve experienced very little. I play on Mattherson which is arguably one of the biggest servers, all the PS1 vet outfits landed there. I’ve been in my fair share of large scale battles and experienced little to no slowdown.

          I will say that back in beta, before i had upgraded my PC, my 2.4 ghz quad core didn’t cut it. The game was playable and I enjoyed it, but I felt at a serious disadvantage at times. However, after upgrading my rig, it runs smooth as ever. I really hope they add more fixes to lower what you need to break this barrier. But once they do, it’ll be great.

          • fish99 says:

            Woodman is the biggest, and it’s woodman that’s had the major lag problems for the last few days during peak time.

          • zachdidit says:

            You know what. I just realized something. You’re on the EU servers. Yeah I’ve been hearing horror stories about performance over there. So sorry guys :(. Once they fix it, though it’s going to be fantastic.

          • sinister agent says:

            I’m on the EU servers too, and to be honest, the problems I’ve seen are spikes, not constants. Lag happens for a minute or two, and badly, but then it sorts itself out. It’s not as game breaking as some are making out.

            However, I’ve been actively avoiding the absurdly busy servers, because waiting for 15 minutes to get in seems daft when the next one over is instant, so iono.

  2. mouton says:

    Whatever, unless the lag and poor performance is addressed, I cannot even start to properly dislike the game.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Biscuitry says:

    Mostly what I’ve come across is people abusing lag artefacts. You don’t need a third party hack to join the ADAD brigade.

    EDIT: Bah, beaten to it.

    • Squishpoke says:

      From what I see, the game’s physics doesn’t really allow players to “sidestep” rapidly. There’s some kind of weight system, and if you try to look down your sights you’ll stop at a standstill.

      This works out pretty well in keeping the lag interpolation relatively smooth. I’ve yet to see anyone abusing the latency as yet (5-6 hours in).

      I can see what you are talking about, if you are on a bad server. I once joined a server on the other side of the planet, too. (heh)

      • SuicideKing says:

        There’s no way to find a good server without a really long process of making characters, hoping you’ll get the name you want and then playing a bit. How hard would it have been to show the ping or write the names of the host countries/cites? I’m in Asia so it sucks for me.

        • Squishpoke says:

          Yup, it annoyed me greatly that there isn’t a ping tool for servers. I imagine it’s much harder to find a good server in Europe when all of them are simply labeled ‘EU’.

          At least for the US servers, they say ‘US WEST’ or ‘US EAST.’

          • Lolmasaurus says:

            Well, at least you have a choice of servers, eh? I play on Briggs, and if I want an alt, that means lag.

          • MrLebanon says:

            I live on the East coast US (well… Canada) and play in a west coast server… no noticeable lag problems. It’s only the odd time when the server goes to rubber banding hell – which from what i understand when its happening to me its happening to everyone. Server resets and whatnot seem to fix it (temporarily anyways)

            they shut down Connery for 2 hours last night around 1AM EST i’m interested what kind of update they did

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            A two hour shut down is likely just a reset. Sounds boring but resetting a server can often improve performance more than an actual update.

          • 2lab says:

            The EU servers are all in the same Dutch data center, a ping tool won’t help you.

            The problem is proably from server load not network, and should just get fixed by better hardware, better code or smaller pop. caps.

          • Premium User Badge

            JoeyJungle says:

            I think they shut down all servers for 2 hours last night. They’ve also got some memory leak bug in their servers that they’re trying to chase down that is the cause of the other, seemingly random server shutdowns.

      • zaik says:

        It’s not actually weight. You can immediately change direction when moving forward even if it’s a full 180. There’s specifically a delay between when strafing one direction ends and the other begins. Before they implemented that, anyone could just ADADADADAD warp effortlessly.

        The people who can still warp with strafing are cheating the same way the guys are that warp all over the place but can still shoot fine. They’re just “doing it less” so to speak.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Tom De Roeck says:

    I havent had any problems so far, and I dont mind them not allowing mods. Its not like its a finished product, not that any MMO is, ever.

    However, stuff like “Cert spending calculators” would be sweet.

  5. Scioptic says:

    I’m all for lack of mods for the sake of security in an MMO where a sub is being paid/station cash spent, but the cheating has already started unfortunately…

  6. Correa says:

    Does this include such things as SweetFX or any other sort of FXAA to make the game look a little bit better without the performance hit?

    • Squishpoke says:

      Yes. This is what started this whole thing in the first place, because the way SweetFX works can mean it’ll get picked up from the cheat detector.

      • SuicideKing says:

        But i guess using Nvidia’s driver based FXAA is allowed (from the Nvidia CP’s 3D Settings)?

        At least, i haven’t been banned for using it…

        • Squishpoke says:

          I have no idea. It would be silly if SOE bans people for forcing FXAA through their GPU. Scratch that, it won’t be silly, it’ll be downright moronic.

          • SuicideKing says:

            Hmmm…plus it’s an Nvidia supported (possibly TWIMTBP) title anyway…

          • HadToLogin says:

            Well, it’s Sony. Their biggest PC contribution was (up to this point) Securom. If Planetside2 won’t turn out to be unplayable (well, would be hard to do it right now, but they might get some “great” ideas…) then it have a chance of bringing Securom from it’s throne.

          • Fishbreath says:

            I think the distinction is that SweetFX (and other anti-aliasing/shader injectors) tell the graphics drivers to render something different, while forced AA in the graphics drivers renders the original image differently. It’s sensible that SOE is skittish about people who are trying to change the visual output of the game. I speak only as a programmer with no graphics experience, though, so take me with a grain of salt.

  7. Mayjori says:

    One of the biggest huffs people are having over this besides the multimonitor FOV injector fix is that using SweetFX is potentially bannable which is very frustrating, seeing how most people, me included have seen significant improvements to quality AND performance -.-.

    • Xzi says:

      Yeah, that is absolutely ridiculous. It would be a different story if the game was well optimized, but it’s not. Quite the opposite, actually. SoE chose to take the game out of beta too early, so they can’t be surprised when the PC community does what it does to make the game playable.

      • Nevard says:

        And in turn the PC community shouldn’t be surprised when accounts are banned from using software indistinguishable from cheat hacks, they’re smarter than that.

        • tetracycloide says:

          Horseshit. The onus is on SOE to correctly identify cheaters not on players to prove they don’t cheat by refraining from any activity that SOE decides is ‘to muvh trouble’ to distinquish from cheating. The fact of the matter is they’re punishing the players that are actually following the rules. This is no different in kind, although obviously in degree, from obtrusive DRM schemes and any number of examples from real life were people are required to give up civil liberties ‘because terrorist.’

          • Asurmen says:

            The onus is not on anyone. Either play by their rules or don’t play. They’re under no obligation to let you use mods and so they’ve decided to go along with a blanket ban as it makes life easier.

          • derbefrier says:

            Dude your so wrong and your laughable attempt to draw parallels to DRM and (lol) an attack on civil liberties is pretty extreme and quite a stretch. They have to protect the integrity of their game. That is their first responsibility, not to pander to a small part of the player base who seems incapable or unwilling to understand the seriousness of this issue and its possible long term affects if it continued unchecked. This is a case of them knowing whats better for the community despite what a few uneducated forums posters may think.

          • sinister agent says:

            Yes, using terrorism as a bogeyman to oppress the population is the same as blanket banning cosmetic mods for a videogame. The only difference is the degree. The only difference.

          • tetracycloide says:

            @Asurmen: If they are going to deprive customers of a product and service they paid for then the onus is absolutely on them to justify that action. Contrary to your statements they don’t just get to make whatever rules they like about what users can and cannot do with their own machines.

            @derbefrier: Banning people that didn’t cheat for cheating doesn’t protect the integrity of anything. Come back when you’ve got something to say other than ‘dude you’re so wrong’ and various euphemisms for ‘you’re stupid.’

            @sinister agent: You’re right, there is a different in kind I didn’t consider that’s a significant mistake on my part. You can opt out of the game by not playing but you can’t opt out of ruled by a government. Obtrusive DRM is a much better comparison as the difference there really is only in kind and the difference in degree is very slight.

          • Asurmen says:

            Given it’s a F2P game, and the vast majority won’t be paying anything the onus still isn’t on them to prove it. And you’re wrong. While the players can do as they wish with their own machines, Sony perfectly have the right to decide how the things you do to your machine interacts with their program/servers in an online multiplayer game.

            Outright banning before these rules have been explained is wrong so I would have prefered temp bans or warnings., but from this point onwards any players really don’t have a defense. You modified knowing it wasn’t allowed, you got caught, man up and deal with it.

    • grok23 says:

      A multi monitor fix is the only thing I’m interested for this game. Without one it’s pretty much impossible to play in any kind of vehicle.

      • MrLebanon says:

        quite impossible…. us single monitor people cannot even play ps2 /sarcasm

        • grok23 says:

          Oh forgive me for wanting to play the game on multi-monitors.

          Sure, I can drop back to playing on one monitor, but why should I not ask for it to get fixed so that I don’t have to compromise?

          • iskaton says:

            It’s plenty disingenuous backpedaling like that. The issue wasn’t that you want to play the game on a multi-monitor setup but that you claimed without one it’s “impossible to play”.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      The best solution would be for SOE to do lighting the way amateur modders have been fixing it for most PC games. Seems odd that these games have lighting that can be tweaked by simply adding a dx9 dll to look incredible, but by default they look washed out and bland. SOE- just make the lighting look awesome like ENB or SweetFX!

  8. TechnicalBen says:

    Too many problems with the game to even think of mods. Although it could benefit from GUI mods.

  9. SanguineAngel says:

    I failed to spot the closing SOE quotation marks so thought the next paragraph was part of the quote initially.

    “especially if they slither their sticky fingers into the whirring guts of a complex machine like PlanetSide 2″

    For a moment I thought SOE’s PR had taken a turn for the brilliant.

  10. ratinox says:

    It’s worth mentioning there’s an addendum to the SOE post:

    As a clarification, since some players have asked, Mumble, Teamspeak, Fraps, and of course Steam, which all use overlays, are expressly allowed. Having an overlay to display information to the user not related to Planetside 2 itself is fine.

    • HadToLogin says:

      Damn, using Steam SHOULD have been considered cheat. That would be a best joke ever, since they released it on it.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        teamspeak and mumble are certainly game changers. They’re not cheats, but they are going to give an advantage to people using them correctly. Much more so than SweetFX

        • Mr. Mister says:

          And since Fraps isn’t free, it’d be a payd-for hack.

        • Shralla says:

          Not if SweetFX actually renders the game playable while it wasn’t before.

  11. Mbaya says:

    I’m happy with this to be honest, played too many MMO’s where mods/gui’s become essential to the point where not having them excludes players or punishes those that don’t use them.

    The dev’s seem really keen on feedback so I’m sure any well thought out additions would be seriously considered for the game.

    I do agree its a shame people can’t mod/enhance the graphics/performance though, hopefully optimisation will be constantly worked on…but I doubt it’ll ever reach the level the community would have achieved.

    • dE says:

      The flipside is, that many MMOs with mandatory GUI Mods have such an abysmal standard Interface that it beggars believe. It’s not just convenience or aesthetics. GUI Mods in MMOs often bring the most basic of functionality to the interfaces.
      I’ve seen games where you couldn’t even search the bloody auction house for items, without a Mod. No seriously, the Devs thought it would be a great idea to have people wade through thousands of pages, looking for their one item.

    • mouton says:

      It was the same back in MUDs – without serious scripting that almost made you into a bot, you were restricted to casual play.

  12. One Pigeon says:

    I popped on for a quick half an hour last night and saw what may have been a cheater.

    No matter where I was in this biolab, interior or exterior, this LA would jetpack round a corner or up over a ledge always looking in my direction, killing me almost instantly while they were still in the air. Killing while shooting from the jetpack is certainly possible as I have done it myself, although your aim is erratic, particularly over medium distance as this sometimes was. The immediate knowledge of my location and pinpoint shooting certainly gave me a few “hmmm…” moments. It was the same person every time.

    I’m reluctant to call cheater as I know if you’re really good at a game there can seem like a fine line between the two but this frustrated me enough to move continents.

  13. yogibbear says:

    Farcry 3 releases in ~ 2 hrs… so…. no longer going to be playing this. :D

    • JimDiGritz says:

      FC3 releases in 2 hours? Are you typing this from the future?

      I’m seeing a UK release date of 30/11 and a US release date of 12/04

    • mouton says:

      It amazes me how people jump to glorify upcoming games as a replacement for older titles, even if they are totally different.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        Don’t be amazed! Great games are few and far between, so when you’re comparing mediocre games a brand new one is always better than one that’s already proven mediocre. For most games there’s a honeymood period- probably the first two or three hours of playing, until you discover it’s just not that great. PS2 has already proven to be not that great, FC3 is not out yet, therefore FC3 is going to provide an hour or so of More Fun than PS2 can hope to deliver.

        • mouton says:

          What can I do, I can’t help but expect a bit more of homo sapiens. Oh well.

        • Somerled says:

          Very elegantly constructed cynicism, friend. You should feel proudly ashamed.

  14. Neurotic says:

    Nope. Not had any problems with lag either. Everything’s A-OK and 100% here, thankfully.

  15. DigitalSignalX says:

    There are several SOE developers in our outfit, and they confirm that SOE will pounce immediately and hard on any reported hacking. They themselves report it all the time via the same method the players do, and the response time is usually within minutes.

    Things you CAN do to mod your client is muck about some with the useroptions.ini file – this lets you mod the draw distance to improve performance, remove some effects completely that would otherwise be set to low even if you set them off in the games UI settings screen.

    • mouton says:

      Nice to know, I have no idea why I haven’t thought of it before.

  16. aircool says:

    No problems with the game at all. Runs lovely and have never once felt cheated when killed.

    After years if playing online shooters, you get used to the effects of minor lag and what not.

  17. zeroskill says:

    Having optimization issues will hurt your game in the long run. While it’s nice the game offeres so much graphical fidelity to people with beast machines, they should more worry about your general gamer on your mid level PC’s. Those people will make up the majority or your game’s player base. And if they can’t get the game to work properly with reasonable settings at at least 30 frames per second, those players will just move on to some other game, which will eventually lead to a rather dead game in a short period of time.

    Optimize your game for mid level PC’s. It doesn’t have to look super nice, just make it work so people can play it with reasonable performance.

  18. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    It’s probably fine in PS2.
    But… all of this anti-cheat stuff is eventually going to negatively impact games more than cheaters ever did.

  19. Lev Astov says:

    This is terrible! I really need to use the FOV fix for vehicles, since the devs can’t be bothered to do anything about it.

    • MrUnimport says:

      Anything that makes it harder for a tanker to splatter infantry is fine by me, really.

      • Lev Astov says:

        You would not like me in Battlefield 3 where tanks actually have teeth. And armor.

        Also, the FOV now gives widescreen tankers a permanent sniper-like zoom.

  20. Rhin says:

    shades of purple willy

  21. Tei says:

    I love PS2, and I have played a fuckton of hours and plan to play another fuckton more. But the truth here is that PS2 is designed in a way that is the oposite of all other FPS games. On all FPS games, the factions are designed to be different and aparent, so soldiers stand out from the background. In Planetside2 soldiers are part of the foreground, sometimes very hard to notice even when you are activatelly looking. The contrast is very bad, and the siluete is not helping. I don’t think this is a error, I think the intended style is “realistic” and tried to make the character look in a particular way, and not tried or avoided making the character feel like something separate from the scenary.
    The result of all this, is that PS2 is a murky game, and is hard to see whats goin on, specially in bad light conditions and specially about the Vanu. And this is why the the vanu come at night, molstly.

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      I’ve found that PS2 is one of the better “realistic”-aesthetic FPSs at distinguishing character/vehicle silhouettes. Nowhere near as distinct as, say, TF2, but that’s pretty much unavoidable if you’re not going for a exaggerated cartoony art style. I rarely find myself misidentifying anything faction-specific, and I think that the color distinction is, for the most part, terrible (the devs apparently think so too, considering that there are camos that basically kill any faction-specific coloring).

      The key, for the most part, is in the shapes. The NC look like their armor is made of boxes, the TR have more traditional tight-fitting military uniforms, while the VS have a weird rounded/sometimes spikey aesthetic. Faction vehicles is mostly a matter of experience, though I do appreciate how all three ESFs have very distinct engine sounds.

      Now, faction independent vehicles are terrible. I dunno how I’m expected to see whether that Galaxy is blue or purple in the night sky a kilometer away…

  22. gritz says:

    The only cheating I’ve seen in game was a speedhacker during beta. There are also a few aimbot videos on Youtube.

  23. Shralla says:

    Maybe you should fix your own fucking game, maybe then people wouldn’t need to run third-party programs to turn off AA and make it playable.

  24. fish99 says:

    Sounds like they’re saying if you modify the useroptions.ini to reduce the draw distance (as some people are doing to get a 20% fps boost) you could get banned for it., which is pretty unreasonable, and also guarantees I won’t be doing that.

    As someone who’s never really played many online shooters before (just a brief dabble in UT and UT2004) I do wonder if I’ll just get bored of the game at some point. It can certainly get repetitive running round an amp station fixing generators for hours. It’s a little frustrating that the bases have been so obviously designed to be easily taken.

  25. berryjonathan12 says:

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    http://www.aimjunkies.com/forums/f416/planetside-2-cheat-information-29482/