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Intel schemes to confound online gaming cheats

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An Intel research project looks set to make good the maxim that a cheater never wins. It's developing specialist software and hardware to ensure that online gamers all play fairly.

Gamers have cheated since the dawn of gaming, developing codes to give them better weaponry, infinite lives, invicibility and, in the case of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a jet-pack, unlimited ammunition and a pogo stick.

Many gamers - or should we say many cheats - will already be familiar with nProtect GameGuard, an anti-cheating software bundled with some online games. It works by blocking certain applications and cheating methods, such as macro programs. But some gamers have alleged the software frequently disrupts game play. PunkBuster is another anti-cheat system.

PunkBuster in action
PunkBuster in Doom 3

Intel's prototype Fair Online Gaming System (FOGS) - outlined in a MIT Technology Review story - is designed to beat the cheats without busting the gameplay. If implemented, it would be built into players' computers through a combination of chipset hardware and software. FOGS monitors gamers' activity at the hardware level for attempts to cheat.

For example, gamers who use input-based cheats could be detected by comparing the information they feed to the game with the data stream created by the game itself. Any discrepancies could then be identified as potential cheats without slowing play, the chip giant claims.

Intel also told TR FOGS can detect network-level cheats designed to extract hidden information from a game data sent over the network, such as other players' positions, and present it to the cheat.

Intel doesn't, as yet, have any plans to release FOGS into the public network, but if it helps me defeat LensMan91 who always seems to beat me at WarCraft, no matter how hard I try, then it'll win my support.

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