Yesterday, I learned the hard way: don’t buy the new Castle Crashers DLC. Don’t even turn the game on Live multiplayer anymore. It’s over. The game broke.

What happened?

This happened:
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It appears that fast leveling glitch with the boomerang to hit level 99 is nothing compared to this. A new exploit involving a wave of players quitting games and repeating the first boss ad-nauseam in the name of instantly boosting your characters up to level 256 is all you’ll see when jumping into a game. There’s several different theories how to do it, but one of the big ones apparently requires another player to be at level 256. Like an internet worm or a griefer’s STD, this new wave of god mode is running the purpose of the game into the ground. Level 256 allows players to kill anything, including bosses in one hit while remaining virtually invincible, which is odd as the stats screen has finite amounts, but I’ve seen it. One thwack of the sword, a barbarian boss dead.

Why write about this? A comment in one of the DGR threads would be sufficient, yes? This post is about cheaters and the integrity of Xbox Live. All’y’all party people have your own reasons for justifying the $60 annual price tag of the gold service. Some of you cite the 95% success rate of the network, others say the party chat and easy invite system, some of you would argue Netflix, last.fm, and facebook add-ons have added up to the price tag. I personally accept the $60 thorn in the neck because of Microsoft’s crackdowns to continuously enforce a fair competitive environment when they’re not spending all their resources on banning accounts with words that could be interpreted as a reference to something inappropriate to an age under eight. Sure developers are charged with fixing the exploit, but what about the fallout damage to the statistics, leaderboards, and rankings? Is fixing that also a developer duty or the console maker’s duty? Sony or Nintendo do not dabble with propping a game back up after a widespread case of steroid abuse as far as I know. Sony’s 3.0 frimware is supposed to introduce a feedback system which may or may not come with the relevancy to keep gigadouche moderated. Microsoft’s feedback system, even with its current issues, has been adequate enough to keep leaderboards and gamerscores from falling to the “9999999999999999999” top rank curse. With that credibility, I’ve never questioned the integrity of high scores on leaderboards. With that credibility, I bought Left 4 Dead knowing the experience depended entirely on the ethics of a community with the collective intelligence of a pinecone. I expected somebody to find a way to break the game (and they did), but it would be fixed. This fix happened for the most part, as it does with many FPS, and the gaming service remained golden through today’s sessions. We can debate the integrity of the L4D Survival mode leaderboard as all the stages had exploits in the beginning, but that will remain grey area like a Barry Bonds asterisk as we just don’t know who’s legit and who hides under the map.

This Castle Crashers incident provides a nearly unprecedented scenario to prove how Microsoft enforces its mission statement, code of conduct, what have you. This time, there are clear identifiers to spot those who cheated or are cheating if developers, Microsoft, and the community respond in every way they are supposed to. With FPS glitching, many cases of cheating accusations are a he-said-she-said because most gaming is not video captured and winning statistics resulting in cheating cannot be clearly distinguished from the true high level players. This time, there are now black and white terms for catching the Level 256 glitchers. A regular player cannot pass Level 99, so there are no innocents. Most players need to reveal themselves to have used the 256lv in the player select screen as character and level are clearly displayed with every shuffled selection. The final identifier is when a Live game starts, players head directly to the barbarian boss fight where the glitch is executed.

Remember boys and girls, if you turned CC on and see a gamertag with a level 256 character, file a Complaint under Tampering. Every exploiter you report is another 13-year-old kicked off Live…if only for a week. It could be a glorious time on the internet for a little while if you contribute. The Behemoth is working on a patch to prevent more 256ers but others say the patch is out. I’m pretty sure the glitching is still going on as I was 0/15 last night in playing a Live game where we didn’t head straight to barbarian boss. A few forums say Behemoth’s official word is to report all glitch users to Microsoft. To get a broken game fixed, ‘don’t mind if I do. Then again, we got two Turtles games to use instead.

From now on, if there is any future dispute with the integrity of competitive gaming over Xbox Live, be it leaderboarding or MMOs, you can now always refute, “remember what they did with Castle Crashers?”

I’m all about observing how this drama plays out.

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One Response to Cleanup on Level 256

  1. Hennet says:

    I still don’t see the point of people exploiting a glitch just to get to the top of the leader boards it takes out the entire feel by doing that, you rip yourself out of the experience and the money that you use to pay for the game just by glitching it.

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