Thursday, February 2, 2023

A Cheating Scandal Around The Omega Protocol Ultimate Fight

Final Fantasy XIV has a problem a lot of other MMORPGs don't experience. The game is cross-platform, meaning both console and PC owners play on the same servers. Since console players cannot use mods, the rules is no mods, period. The belief among many in the community is, Naoki Yoshida, the producer and director of FFXIV, doesn't really mean it. During the just completed race to world first for The Omega Protocol Ultimate, at least one member of the winning team from Japan decided to use a camera zoom cheat to progress faster. Yoshi-P got mad.

In a classic case of fuck around and find out, the winning team was stripped of the title, achievements, and gear obtained by completing the Ultimate. In addition, those found guilty of using mods or other cheats face suspension or permanent account bans.

In a possibly related event, the final cutscene for the Ultimate fight was leaked via someone hacking The Unending Journey. From watching coverage of the event on YouTube, I hear that seeing the final platform even after a fight can give the raiders an advantage. Yoshida explained what happened in a post on The Lodestone.

We have confirmed that a video showing the cutscene that plays upon clearing The Omega Protocol (Ultimate) at a time before the fight had been cleared was posted on video upload sites. We conducted an investigation on this matter and discovered the cause of the issue. Through sending a cleverly disguised but illicit information packet from the user’s end while on the public game server, it is possible to manipulate the playback condition flag intended for use when replaying cutscenes via The Unending Journey. As a result, it was possible to play this cutscene via The Unending Journey, from which a video was then recorded and posted publicly. I wish to apologize that our measures to counteract these illicit packets was insufficient to prevent this occurrence.

Due to other illicit actions which occurred in the past, we had taken the steps to adjust the timing at which cutscene resources are applied to the client, but because of the above incident, the cutscene resources became illicitly obtainable even though proper countermeasures had been taken. We will continue to consider additional measures which can be taken and look to strengthen our ability to manage and address these instances.

However, for this particular case, we have identified the character who partook in this illicit action and have enacted a penalty against the account.

The red text above was in the original post. I didn't add it. Like I mentioned in the article, Yoshi-P is mad. He's also a little upset that people think he approves of the use of mods.

As I have mentioned previously, the terms of service for FINAL FANTASY XIV state that the use of third-party tools is strictly prohibited. This has always been the case and will continue to be so, and unless announced otherwise, there are no plans to enact any changes.

I have come across posts from individuals that say things along the lines of, “Yoshida allows the use of third-party tools, so it’s fine to use them.” However, let me make it clear that I have never permitted the use of these tools. You may find information below from past posts and livestreams which outline my stance and policies surrounding third-party tools.

Having lived through scandals like the input boxing ban in EVE Online back in 2015, I know from experience a difference exists between developers tacitly allowing a software to exist versus not having the ability to enforce the terms of service. In the latter case, the game company will do two things. One, enforce the ToS when someone so blatantly violates the ToS that enforcing the terms becomes possible. We see that in the situation today. The second is change the game so players cannot break the rules.

 Yoshida broke out the second option in his closing remarks in The Lodestone post.

The ultimate raid series is the most difficult battle content within FFXIV, and we release this content after testing that it can be cleared without the use of any third-party tools. However, if the presumption is that this content will be tackled and cleared with the use of third-party tools, then any reason to develop high-difficulty battle content seems to be lost. It’s very difficult for me to understand as a gamer what the meaning behind using numerous third-party tools to compete to clear first would be.

While I think many people don't believe we have seen the last Ultimate fight, if other activity like hacking is associated with the world first race, I can see Yoshi-P doing something dramatic to put an end to the activity. We won't know for sure until the next expansion, however, because The Omega Protocol was the last planned Ultimate fight for Endwalker.

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