All this hubbub over the Neverwinter cats and the 7-hour rollback has got me thinking something I’ve believed for a while.
It seems to me that the most important thing that an MMO developer should focus on during their game development is … not the game at all. They need to focus on logging and tracking functionality. They need to focus on being able to “undo” any item in the system. They need to be able to rollback individual characters, and in so doing, rollback all of the transactions that character has done in that time frame, which means they need a complete transaction history for each item. (Perhaps only keep such transactions for blue or purple items, common items aren’t important enough.) They need to be able to see alerts whenever unusual activity occurs. They need to see when a character’s gold increases dramatically over the course of a day. They need an automatic freeze on any character who receives more than a set amount of gold, so that someone can manually investigate it. Someone needs to be sitting in front of a big monitor with realtime alerts on it, showing a big map of the game world, with blinking red dots everywhere there’s suspicious activity.
So basically I’m saying that the dev team needs to spend 75% of their time working on countermeasures for cheaters, and only 25% of their time on making a fun game.