So “Huntgate” anyone? Yeah, it’s been some really bizarre and tumultuous days. I guess we’ve seen everything. Hyperbole from all sides, players blaming Cryptic, Cryptic blaming players. Those that feel cheaters deserved what they got, others that felt the game did itself a disservice. I thought long about writing this article, because I’m not a huge fan of taking part in the “he said, she said” drama. Bit since Uncensored undoubtedly played a role in spreading the exploit, and got dragged into the spotlight to some extent, I guess it’s one of those situations where you can’t dodge posting something.
In case you’re wondering about the title. It’s related to what was written in this Reddit thread, more specifically this time line. It describes what happened fairly well, but assigns all blame to everyone but the company. And assigning blame is exactly what I’d like to go over today. To a lesser extent we also have to talk the state of the community (again), because it’s closely tied to that. Because one thing the exploit has shown is how deeply divided the player base is. It’s gotten so far that people are willing to purposely spin a story to make the other party look bad. Or at least omit or present “facts” in a dubious way to help create a certain narrative. I by the way do not think anyone does this out of pure malice. It’s just that people feel they are right and gradually use more extreme ways to make them heard.
Our site by the way does fall victim to this as well. We often to present the player and “company critical” side of things because official platforms usually moderate those opinions. That definitely leads to biased coverage as well at times. We still feel like players get more accurate information here, because in contrast to other platforms, everyone can post (and disagree on) whatever they want.
What Role Did Uncensored Play?
In this particular instance Reddit also dragged us into the spotlight as those that allegedly made everything worse than it should have by posting details on September, 2nd. It’s one of those situations which I referred to above where the narrative doesn’t match what actually happened. I don’t fully blame the sub though. We did share some details behind the scenes, but maybe not enough to not come to the posted conclusion. Truth is, several PC players approached us and wanted us to post the details because they were fed up with some players exploiting like crazy. I personally knew about a YouTube video that was set to private, ready to get published and flooded all over Protector’s Enclave, Reddit, and Arcgames. What we did was convince them to wait until a fix. One week before the patch, a second team members got contacted from another source and wanted to write about it as well.
So here’s your tl;dr: Shit would have blown up anyway. If you feel otherwise, that’s your opinion, but it’s most certainly wrong. The smart way would have been to wait for others to post their YouTube vid or whatever and then simply pick that up in a story. I didn’t however anticipate that the whole thing might still be live on consoles anyway. That’s on me, shit happens. But since I also had to honor an agreement with my source to publish as soon as the exploit was fixed on PC, and a second team member wanted to post about it as well, it would have gone up anyway.
What Role Did Cryptic Play?
The other question is what did or didn’t Cryptic do to prevent this mess? In the Reddit timeline there are some interesting aspects I’d like to go over. First of all, the devs knew about the exploit since the preview days of Module 14. Rumor has it that dev Noworries even received exploit details in a PM. That’s unconfirmed, but it’s pretty common knowledge that the info was out there. It still took them more than three months to get a fix out on all platforms. Plus they didn’t try to push the patch through certification for the consoles ASAP and kicking investigation into high gear until we leaked the exploit. Why couldn’t this have been done earlier? There’s other stuff I won’t even go over here. Like banning on Fridays, pairing the bans with the Mod 15 release, etc.
Another crucial span is the time between the exploit leak and the acknowledgment. So let’s say some evil website posted exploit details. Well, crap. And now you need ten days to get a post up although you know that at that point everyone and their mother is using the bug ingame? I agree that being silent about it up to that point was probably for the better, but after September 2nd you’re just worsening the situation. Also, if Cryptic had fixed the exploit in a reasonable time, nothing would have happened. If there’s anything to learn from this: You better deal with this kind of crap asap. Otherwise you just risk stuff to blow up eventually.
This perceived “laziness” by the way was one of the reasons why we decided to post exploits. It was to apply some sort of pressure and create a necessity to fix them. In the history of the game, it almost became a meme how stuff only got fixed after it leaked. There are several examples, and Huntgate adds to those (although as mentioned, this time it wasn’t even intended…).
Officials and the Community
The incident also shows how divided the community is. There are so few people willing to build bridges in positions with power. It just leads to more separation and this whole “us vs them” mentality quite frankly is why players largely blame Cryptic for the mess. The same applies to the content creator scene. It’s no coincidence that pretty much all major YouTubers went out and posted vids bashing the devs to some extent. This might not be completely justified, but is a direct result of the game not working with their influencers appropriately. What irritates me the most is seeing people openly celebrate bans of others because they don’t like them or their opinion/content. Losing players first and foremost is bad. Reasons matter, but it’s a clear second.
What Role Did the Players Play?
Which brings us to us players. If you exploited and got caught, tough luck. Of course the initial reaction is to blame Cryptic for leaving the exploit in the game for so long. That’s not wrong, but I guess in the vast majority of cases players knew exactly what they were doing. Nobody has to exploit, people voluntarily choose to do so. The ones I talked to by the way were very reasonable. Most said they deserve a punishment, and only lamented on the severity for the most part.
There is one caveat though, which brings us back to the time span between the exploit leak and the acknowledgment. At that point, everyone was doing it on consoles and even for “legit” players it got increasingly harder to avoid getting sucked into exploiting themselves. Even if players still did something wrong, I think it’s fair to point that out. It almost feels like PWE purposely let that linger to set a trap for the players. I mean they absolutely didn’t, but it’s just so hilarious.
So in the end, it’s as always. It takes a good amount of bad circumstances and coincidence for stuff to culminate into something like Huntgate. Everyone made mistakes, and rigorously pointing fingers doesn’t help. Not the game, not the community. Maybe it’s fair to put it like this: The only ones that have all the power to prevent this in the future are the devs, Cryptic and PWE, themselves. If they are able to pull the right strings, react more promptly and more transparently, we won’t ever witness another Huntgate again.
What’s your take on this topic? Who’s to blame the most? The players, Uncensored, the devs? Share your thoughts and experience on our social channels, in the comments below, or visit our message board!
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