[bf1942] Issues regarding "ranked servers"

Luke luke at techfreak.org
Sat Jun 4 08:41:32 EDT 2005

I have to say that IF unranked servers = non-EA servers then the tone of
this 'update' is unbelieveably arrogant. Unranked (non-EA) servers are
just good places to learn how not to be a n00b??!?!?!?!? Please......

If this is the case, I will likely boycott hosting the game. This is a
level of arrogance not seen before. If, however, all admins are allowed to
choose whether their servers are ranked or not is another story. If we
have th choice I don't see a huge problem with this structure.


Joe said:
> Hey guys, check out this load of horse dung!
> http://www.eagames.com/official/battlefield/battlefield2/us/editorial.jsp?sr
> c=communityupdate_060305
> Let me highlight my two favorite parts.
> "Unranked servers will be the best environment for new players to learn
> Battlefield 2"
> "The one thing these will all have in common, however, is the lack of
> pressure to meet the high standard of play we will expect on Ranked
> servers
> (i.e. don’t be a nuisance, don’t break EA’s Terms and Conditions and
> strive
> to be a team player). "
> They expect to shovel the crap onto the unranked servers? Haha? Not sure
> if
> I should laugh or sob at this point...
> And for as much as this hurts and displeases me & my clan, I can only
> imagine the pain on the GSP end..
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Frode H [mailto:panic at battlefield.no]
> Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2005 7:21 AM
> To: bf1942 at icculus.org
> Subject: [bf1942] Issues regarding "ranked servers"
> Hi everyone. And a special hi to you, Andreas. I hope you read this!
> Before I get started, I want to outline the content of this email,
> since I recognise that it's quite long. As the subject says, this email
> is about the BF2 ranking system, and more specificially it's about the
> impact I fear it might have on the BF2 community. I start off with by
> laying out my concerns, then backing them up, and finally I offer a
> suggestion as to how the ranking issue could be resolved.
> As I write this, there is a lot of discussion amongst server operators
> and community leaders about the impact of the ranking system and the
> ranked servers. The main concern is that people would prefer ranked
> servers, and that most players would just leave the "show only ranked
> servers" server filter in the game browser on. Result? Lots and lots of
> players will never even see the community servers out there. And in my
> belief, it's the communities that keep games alive!
>>From a fellow operator, I've been given word that Dice/EA works under the
> assumption that many players will prefer unranked servers. Personaly I do
> not believe this. Give people rank and stats, and they go crazy. And when
> you add the fact that rank will unlock weapons for you, well, go figure.
> First I was reading on the various game sites statements about the
> unlocked
> weapons not being more powerful, only different. Then I read this preview
> of a clan trying out the game at Dice's in Sweden:
>> I had serious problems adapting to the M16, it lacked the ability to
>> shoot in full-automode and I hated it. I almost felt like hanging myself
>> when a Chinese soldier killed me for the twentieth time with hill fully
>> automatic AK. A big fat curse rolled over my lips. Ironically the
> programmer
>> who was responsible for weapons balancing was right behind me. When I
> realised
>> my reaction he calmly told me that you would be albe to select another
>> gun
>> when I got a certain score. Phew, what a relief. I guess when I'm US
>> I'll
> go
>> defend some flags until I'm awarded enough points to switch guns in the
> assault class.
> Now, I guess it's time to insert a disclaimer here. From here on and out
> I will assume that "certain score" refers to the official rank score, and
> not
> the player's score during that round on the current map. I will also
> assume
> that
> server operators can't turn unlocking of weapons - and other features that
> are
> used as rewards in the ranking system - off. I'll be one happy server
> operator
> if I'm wrong, but right now, I'm assuming I'm not. With that said:
> This is a community server killer! Which again is a community killer!
> Because
> this will *surely* guarantee that *everyone* will prefer ranked servers,
> and
> the non-ranked community servers will be left out...
> This is bad for the community, and I am also pretty sure it is bad for
> Dice
> and EA in the long run. And "the long run" might easily be as soon as this
> fall,
> when BF2 is out of the news, and left to the communities to be kept alive.
> So first of all, Andreas, could you please release the "specs" of the
> ranking
> system, so we could comment on the choises you guys have made. Since this
> is
> something that have the potential to greatly affect the communities, I
> think
> it's only fair to give us some facts, and hear us out on our comments.
> But since we allready know about locking of weapons, and since I now
> assume
> that the M16 rifle is locked to single-shot until you reach a certain rank
> point threshold, I will say this: I thinks this is madness! This is
> creating
> an
> uneven battlefield that is newbie hostile. And furthermore it will, as I
> said
> earlier, allmost certainly guarantee that anyone serious about their BF2
> gaming
> will restrict their playing to ranked servers. Everybody wants the
> juiciest
> weapons! Top that with the competitivness of gamers matched with the
> ranking
> system, and I'm sure my claim holds.
> So what I'm getting at, as a server operator and one of the four "board
> members"
> of the biggest battlefield community in Norway, Battlefield.no, is that I
> have
> grave concerns about how the ranking system in BF2 will affect our
> community.
> I was hoping BF2 would be a great boost for us, and we're working hard
> (even
> with
> EA Norway) to get people exited about BF2. We're planning expensive server
> purchase for kick-ass servers to be put on kick-ass
> one-hop-from-the-backbone pipes.
> We're so exited about BF2 that we're close to pissing our pants, and we're
> hoping
> we can build a big, vital and friendly BF2 community, where we can all
> have
> fun!!
> But if BF2, out of the box, is designed and set up in such a way as to
> marginalise
> community servers, and hence communities, I'm afraid my dreams will come
> crashing
> down on me. So I'm literaly begging you: Help us find a solution here!
> All this might seem a bit dramatic. But I feel it is! Maybe not for my
> beloved
> Battlefield.no, since we might actually get to run ranked servers. But the
> global
> BF community is mostly put together of small communities of clans running
> public
> servers, and they will not be able to run ranked servers. At least not
> until
> Dice
> find a way to allow ranking on all servers. And I suppose BFV showed with
> all clarity
> what may happen to a game that has serious issues that aren't addressed
> I know you are trying to figure out a way to do it, Andreas. And I know
> Dice
> has
> lots of competent programmers. But just so that I'm not just pissing and
> moaning
> here, I'll include some thoughts I've had on how you might go about
> solving
> the
> ranked server issue. Use them for inspiration if you like, or trash them
> as
> garbage.
> Just - please - solve this issue as quickly as you can :-)
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Intro:
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Problem: Secure collection of ranking data from BF2-servers
> Proposal: Attacking the problem using public key cryptography
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> NB: This is just my first thoughts, and they have not been structured or
> refined!
> General assumption: EA wants to make it a server operator's choice to
> enable ranking on a game server or not. They also prefer to distribute
> only ONE set of server files, not two. They are also willing to build
> a system where server operators can register their servers, in order
> to collect and communicate ranking data from the game servers to the
> EA ranking servers.
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Collection and transmission of rank data:
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> 1. Collection of rank data:
> a. Collect ranking data into some data structure during a game round.
> b. Serialize, compress and encrypt the data (using an "EA pub key") upon
> round completion.
> NB: This can also be done at low priority, while the next round starts.
> Assumption: The threat model does not include server operators hacking
> into the server memory, and altering the rank data structure. (And this
> is a sound assumption I would argue.)
> 2. Transmission of data:
> a. Sign the encrypted ranking data using the server's private key.
> b. Trickle the encrypted data to an EA server during the following round.
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Actions by server owner:
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> 1. Preparations:
> Generate a public key pair, and store them in some files somewhere.
> Keep the private key secret!
> Comment: This would not pose a problem for most server operators,
> and actually it wouldn't compromise the ranking system if a server
> operator publically announced his private key. It would only mean
> that that server could not be uniquely identifiable any more, if the
> operator also announced his account id. This would still not compromise
> the ranking as such. The point of the server operator's private key
> is only to identify him.
> 2. Register servers:
> a. Register an account with EA.
> b. Get an account id.
> c. Register the game server(s).
> d. Exchange public keys.
> 3. Setting up the server:
> a. Insert account id into config file.
> b. Put the "EA public key" you got from the EA site in a file somewhere.
> Comment: The point of this is to let EA have some track on who is
> contributing
> to the ranking system. This is great in many ways. It let's EA identify
> the
> biggest (and most valuable) communities, and it also gives EA the
> opportunity
> to implement the rank-logging in such a way that ranking points from
> spesific
> servers (and communities) might be revoced completely, if EA suspects foul
> play.
> The encryption with the "EA public key" while the ranking stats are still
> in
> memory, assures that the server operator can't tamper with the ranking
> points
> unless he writes a tool that alters that data structure in the servers
> memory.
> And this is hardly a probable attack, in my oppinion.
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Simple protocol proposal:
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Assume you have a blob of compressed ranking data that you need to
> transmit it to an EA ranking server:
> 1. Encryption of the ranking data on the game server:
> a. Query EA for an encrypted, timestamped id.
> b. Wrap the packet from EA with the compressed ranking data.
> c. Encrypt the whole thing using the "EA ranking public key".
> 2. Signing of the ranking data on the game server:
> a. Wrap the server's account id together with the "EA packet" from 1.a and
> a hash of the encrypted ranking data.
> b. Encrypt (sign) this "header" with the server's private key.
> c. Wrap the signed header and the encrypted ranking data into some
> structure,
> and transmit to en EA ranking server.
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Ok, very unpollished. I haven't had time for that. I hope you guys can
> make something out of this, and pitch in with ideas. If it is requested,
> I'll gladly create a more structured and detaild documentation of my
> suggestion, if it is wanted.
> Well, I've written enough to publish a novel by now, so I guess it's time
> to sign off. I'll keep my fingers crossed that a solution will surface...
> -Frode
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>  Name: Frode Hommedal
>  Location: Norway
>  Day job: VLSI designer and programmer
>  Site: Battlefield.no [ http://www.battlefield.no ]
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>  International Game Server Operators Association [ http://igsoa.com ]
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------

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