Cheat (computer game)

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Cheat module "Gameshark" for Nintendo's N64

As a Cheat ( English for fraud , swindle ) the option is called, in a computer game the game to influence or be accompanied by external programs in a non-ordinary gameplay corresponding manner. These are, for example, tricks with which difficult sections of a game segment ("level") can be skipped or the player receives additional life energy , more ammunition or more units. Usually these functions are programmed in for testing purposes during the development phase of the game.

The use of cheats has a great influence on the course of the game, as basic rules of the game are overridden by cheats. While this is tolerated in single-player games and the possibility to cheat is usually already built into the game developer (often cleverly hidden) today, it is outlawed in multiplayer games and can lead to a ban . In single-player games, cheats are also outlawed if players gain advantages in a speed run or use them for a high placement on the highscore table . Players who gain an advantage through cheats are called cheaters or hackers in online games by external programs and are usually excluded from the game as far as possible.

Especially with pure multiplayer or online games and in e-sports , it is in the interest of the game developer to prevent cheating as much as possible, as otherwise the fun of the participants who play fairly will suffer (no fair play ) and thus also threaten the commercial success of a game and leads to disqualification . Preventing the use of unwanted cheats is a great effort for game manufacturers and can never be fully guaranteed. The game developer Blizzard Entertainment has sometimes resorted to drastic measures on its online game platform to prevent cheating. In the case of potential cheaters, user data was deleted (in this case: player characters ) or entire player accounts were blocked. This possibility of influencing, however, only exists if the online game is operated ("hosted") on the game manufacturer's central servers, which is not the case with most online games - most only require a direct connection between the players' computers and a game server on the Internet, which, however, is seldom monitored by game manufacturers. But there is also the networking of computers at so-called LAN parties .

Cheat techniques

A basic distinction can be made between several cheat techniques.

Exploitation of program errors (bugusing)

The exploitation of program errors (program errors in computer games are also called glitch in this context), also called bug- using or bug- using , which have not yet been discovered or corrected by the game developer, allows the player to perform actions in the game that were not intended by the developer. Such errors are usually found by chance and usually require a lot of time with a targeted search. Even taking advantage of such errors sometimes requires a lot of practice before the desired effect is achieved. In online games, players who exploit such errors are often referred to as bug users ( loosely translated as error users ) or exploiters , bug users (both error users , error abusers ). It is used, for example, to get to places that are not actually intended for the players and offer the player camouflage or an advantage.

Bugusing can also occur with PHP , JavaScript , Perl and other programming languages , but there is no restriction to scripting languages for dynamic websites. The latter are used, among other things, for many browser games (example: OGame ). Through security gaps in the language, program sequences can be changed, data can be deleted or unrestricted access to the server can be created.

In online games, delays (so-called lags ) in the game can also be used to gain a game advantage.

Script cheating

A variant of cheat that is similar to bug using is cheating through in-game scripts. Many games, such as Counter-Strike , offer an internal scripting language that can normally only be used for harmless commands in multiplayer mode. However, certain combinations of these commands can lead to effects that affect the cheat programs e.g. T. are very similar. Such effects are for example:

NoRecoil / Anti-Recoil
reduces the typical "delay" (English recoil = recoil) of weapons and thus allows permanent shooting without the aiming accuracy (considerably) falling.
allows teleporting  - even if the game itself doesn't offer this. The way it works is often a multiple team change, so that an error occurs during the so-called re-spawning and you are in the starting position of the opponent.
180 ° turn / fast turn
enables lightning-fast rotation by 180 ° in order to be able to fight opponents who attack from behind more quickly.

Script cheating is very similar to bug using and overlaps e.g. In some cases, too, but bug using very often takes a different approach than script cheating. Nevertheless, script cheaters are also called exploiters .

Often the transition from script cheating and optimizing the graphics settings of a game ("game engine tuning") is fluid. For example, changing the gamma values ​​to brighten dark areas can be rated as cheating.

Macros and bots

Macros are programs or scripts that simulate player inputs such as keystrokes and mouse movements for the game. In this way, the player can gain an advantage over others, because inputs using macros can be carried out faster, more precisely or more persistently than the player himself could.

Bots (from the English robots = robot ) are basically an extension of the macro concept. They analyze the outputs of the game and react to recognized information or events with simulated inputs.

Since macros and bots send input to the game in the same way as "real" players, they are significantly more difficult to detect than cheats that use other methods.

The following cheats can be classified as macros or bots:

In the case of first-person shooters, describes an external program that helps the player to aim and shoot at his opponent, for example by automatically placing the mouse cursor on the target and possibly triggering a shot. This gives the player an enormous advantage over his fellow players, as the aimot can react much faster and more precisely than a human player. Aimbots work in different ways. Some Aimbots recognize players even when they are out of field of view. Other aimbots, on the other hand, look for the player's texture on the screen; the use of such an aimot sometimes requires a change in the textures for game pieces so that the program can recognize the pieces as such. Game figures are therefore assigned bright colors (cham-hack; chameleon), which otherwise tend not to appear in the game. Since the textures can no longer be exchanged so easily in newer games, current Aimbots work a little differently. They support the player in aiming, but unlike the TriggerBot, they do not completely relieve them of the task.
Crafting bot
In the case of online role-playing games, refers to an external program that enables the player to have his playing figure manufactured by hand in the game fully automatically.
In online role-playing games, refers to an external program that enables the player to control his character in the game fully automatically and the bot usually takes over the entire fight.
Mining bot
In the case of online role-playing games, refers to an external program that enables the player to have his playing figure reduce resources in the game fully automatically.
In online role-playing games, refers to an external program that enables the player to have his character and pet (animal, vehicle) controlled fully automatically in the game.
Speed ​​hack
Allows the player to move extremely quickly. This can give the user of the "hack" unfair advantages, for example because he can get within range of the opponent or out of it more quickly or offer the opponent a worse target. This also gives the player the opportunity to get to certain points in the game more quickly to collect items or raw materials.

Manipulation of the game / the scores

A common cheat option is the manipulation of the game itself. Usually this happens at runtime, i.e. as soon as the game is loaded into the computer's memory. Cheat programs, so-called trainers , can find the place in the working memory where the game saves important information such as the player's score, and they can manipulate or freeze this, which makes sense for example with the player's life points.

As a rule, the trainer program runs in the background parallel to the game and listens to a certain key press by the player. If this key press is received, the trainer becomes active.

Instead of intervening in the current program, there is also the possibility of manipulating saved games. This is done either by hand with a hex editor or with a program that automates this process, such as the Cheat Engine .

It is also possible to change the machine code of the game itself either by changing the executable files on the hard drive (using a crack ) or during runtime by patching the main memory. The latter happens either through a program running alongside the game or through a single DLL injection per game session . With a DLL additionally loaded in this way , the functionality of a program can be expanded as required.

Manipulation of open source games

In the case of the less widespread open source games, manipulation is also possible by directly editing the source code . This enables, for example, automated shooting or the display of opponents behind walls. In closed source games, all of this would only be possible by using bots or the like. However, it is also possible to transfer incorrect information to the server or the other clients. In this way, the player can have his client pretend that he is suddenly in a completely different place (“teleporting”). However, this presupposes that the server does not or only insufficiently checks the information received from the clients about position, shots fired and the like for possible incorrectness.

Save Scumming / Scum Saving

In games in which only the current course of the game can be saved and continued (e.g. in rogue likes ), the game status is copied after saving. The player can now copy back the manually saved game at any time.

Manipulation of the game graphics

The manipulation of the game graphics can give the cheating player advantages in a variety of ways.

The technique behind the manipulation is almost always the same. Due to technical restrictions and protective measures of the operating system, a cheat cannot easily draw on the screen and only has very limited access to the drawings of a game. In order to still be able to analyze, change and even enrich the graphics, cheats redirect the graphics data, which should actually be sent directly to the graphics card via the graphics driver, to themselves. So the cheat gets access to the graphic data and can send it to the graphic driver itself after the manipulation.

The following cheats work with this technique:

(see section Macros / Bots ) These hacks only use this technique to analyze the outcome of the game, for example to determine the position of an opponent on the screen.
Cham hacks
With a Cham hack (derived from chameleon ), the textures on the game models are changed so that they are easier to see - primarily through bright colors. This makes it easier e.g. B. to distinguish your own teammates from opponents. This technique is also used in combination with aimbots. Extended variants of this technique combine the bright colors with a wallhack - the actually hit areas of the enemy models are displayed with a different color (or only these areas are colored).


Example of a hitbox

With the hitbox (hit box ) a normally invisible area is displayed for the characters, which is used for the calculation of collisions and / or hit queries. The cheater can see better where to hit the opponent.

Changing the player skin

With this cheat the skin of the game will be changed without the intention of the developer. With this cheat the player does not gain any advantage in the game, which is why it is strictly a mod. Example is the nude cheat.

Flashhack / Smokehack
In the case of first-person shooters, the fading out of the effects that impair visibility that arise when using smoke or stun grenades.
A Maphack is a popular cheat that enables real-time strategy games to completely uncover the normally not completely visible playing card. This gives the player an unfair advantage over the other players, since he can then follow all the actions in the game, while the other players can only see everything in their field of vision defined by the game. Maphacks were and are often in different versions for popular games of the strategy game genre, especially for games like Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos or StarCraft .
Spike models
Here, the game pieces are replaced by variants in which the three spatial axes are visually represented by very long thin cylinders. This enables the characters to be seen through walls and ceilings.
This cheat describes the possibility of first-person shooters to make walls and obstacles appear semi-transparent so that you can see through them. Variations of this cheat are the wireframe hack and the Lambert hack , which show walls as a wireframe model or completely white and without shadows. There is also the XQZ variant, in which the walls and obstacles are displayed normally, but certain objects such as enemies and weapons are still visible as if there were no obstacles in the way. An alternative to partially transparent walls is the marking of the opponent by surrounding boxes . One speaks of a wallhack when a cheat allows one to go through walls.


Multihacks are a package of many different hacks that can all be used at the same time to give the player an even greater advantage. They are necessary because many cheats in combination cause conflicts due to the way they work and may not work.

Player name cheats

In this variant of the cheats, names are simply entered when creating the game. B. cause infinite ammunition. This method requires a restart of the game, as these cheats usually cannot be used on running games.

Display of opponent information and ghosting

With this cheat actual secret information about the opponent, like life meter, inventory, ammunition, abilities and position on the map is shown to the cheater. Free flying around the map without being seen is also known as ghosting. A special technique is stream sniping , in which the game is observed in a live stream in order to then use this information to attack the player (s).

Modchips and cheat modules

The Action Replay cheat module is a well-known cheat module for several game consoles. The module for the Amiga 500 is shown here .

In console games, modchips or cheat modules (in German also cheat modules) must be used, which modify the console's firmware so that the external cheat software can be installed on it. This process invalidates the console manufacturer's warranty and can lead to technical problems.

Unfair gambling

From pure cheating, which can be translated as cheating and cheating, unfair ways of playing are generally to be distinguished. These are, for example, griefing and trolling , an unfair distribution of game teams, secret player alliances in the game, observing the players on the map in the kill cam in order to plan an attack (ghosting), exchanging and sharing items and characters instead To work them out on your own (twinking), spawn kills and occupying loot spawners (farming) or canceling a game session in order not to lose the game.

Developer cheat codes

In most games, certain cheats are intentionally integrated as test functions. This allows game developers to test various details while developing a level, for example , without having to start a regular game every time. These cheats can usually also be used by players in single player mode if a certain point in the game seems too difficult. Such cheats are mostly deactivated in multiplayer mode and are not intended for use by the players, but can also be activated there for test purposes, depending on the game and settings.

Some common developer codes are:

  • god activates god mode (Eng. "god mode") in many games. This code makes you invulnerable in the game.
  • noclip ( Quake Engine ) or ghost ( Unreal Engine ) deactivates the collision detection and thereby enables the player to walk or hover through walls.
  • infinite ammunition
  • all equipment or weapons

Known or significant cheat codes:

  • IDDQD activates god mode in Doom and is used in many other games as a tribute to the game in different contexts.
  • it is a good day to die ( Engl. "It's a good day to die") activates god mode in Warcraft II, the phrase is a quote from Star Trek .
Konami code
  • "Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start" ( pressed in quick succession on the joypad ) is a universal cheat code that can be found in Konami games.

Easter eggs

Cheat codes that unlock funny but not beneficial things (for example a photo of the developer or a garbage truck in a racing game) are not actually cheats and are called Easter Eggs .

Anti-cheat techniques

The articles Anti-Cheat-Tool and Cheat (computer game) # Anti-Cheat-Techniques overlap thematically. Help me to better differentiate or merge the articles (→  instructions ) . To do this, take part in the relevant redundancy discussion . Please remove this module only after the redundancy has been completely processed and do not forget to include the relevant entry on the redundancy discussion page{{ Done | 1 = ~~~~}}to mark. Calle Cool ( discussion ) 12:59, 27 Mar. 2014 (CET)
  1. Closed server refers to the storage of game statuses on the game manufacturer's servers. The player therefore does not have the opportunity to change the scores outside of the game. This offers some protection, but does not prevent the use of coaches or other programs that influence the course of the game.
  2. Client / server-based techniques: Here, a program is started on the client that communicates with a program installed on the server and verifies whether the game has been modified on the client and reports any modifications to the server. ( Anti-cheat tool )
  3. Observe conspicuous play patterns and ban suspicious players. This can be done through various software or through a reporting function of unfair players or it can be done directly by the admin. Instead of a ban, there can also only be a kick from the server, a punishment or the resetting of the game progress in the case of a cheater.

Example for 2: Example programs are PunkBuster and Cheating-Death, which must be installed on the computer of the multiplayer or online player so that he can take part in a game. The game server only allows players on whose computers the corresponding program has been started. If it is discovered that a player is using cheats, he will be removed from the server. Since the program runs locally on the relevant computer, it can keep an eye out for the known cheat techniques and sound the alarm if necessary. It is an effective method of preventing cheating, which is also supported by various game developers. Since such tools mostly work close to the kernel, they cannot be operated with an alternative operating system. Games protected in this way cannot be played with Wine or CrossOver under Linux. Appropriate countermeasures can, however, also be used to nullify such programs. The scenario is comparable to a computer virus , a constant back and forth between developers and cheaters.

The developers of Blizzard Entertainment have developed a client module called "Warden", which regularly transmits data such as the names of the program processes in the main memory and other data to the server . With each update of the World of Warcraft client software and the Warden is changed, and each access account is associated with a different version of the "Warden". Not all cheat developers always manage to adapt to such innovations in good time, and so the company has in some cases been able to show great success in recognizing and blocking cheaters - at the expense of the privacy of all users. The "Warden" not only spies out memory areas and CPU processes that are exclusively relevant for the game software, but all of them. The client does not send the collected information to the server in clear text. In the user agreement , the player must either declare his or her consent or refrain from playing the game. The fact that millions of players are openly restricted in their rights does not necessarily lead to a cheat-free game world. Intelligent countermeasures adapt to the different guard versions, trick the protection program into believing that everything is within normal parameters, in turn scan the guard software and automatically remove themselves and the cheat programs from the main memory as soon as an unknown version of the guard module is detected. This anti-anti-cheat software is usually not available for free.

Steam also uses the Valve Anti-Cheat Tool (VAC).


Individual evidence

  1. a b c A fight against windmills
  3. Refined Cheating Methods . In: Tom's Hardware . May 15, 2007. Archived from the original on September 16, 2012. Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved August 1, 2012. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. ^ A b René Meyer: From XYZZY to IDKFA: A journey through four decades of video game cheats. In: heise online . July 31, 2020, accessed August 2, 2020 .

Web links

Commons : Cheating hardware  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files