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#1 2013-07-07 09:51:18

bitbutter
Member
Registered: 2013-07-07
Posts: 16

Suicide vandalism exploit?

My brother and I have been playing The Castle Doctrine over the last week, collaboratively using one license. It's been great fun. With a lot of trial and error we finally managed to build up a house that wasn't easy to rob from.

The last time we logged in the house had been destroyed. Watching the security tapes we saw that back when the house was intact, one robber 'Christopher S. Haskins', attempted a few robberies in a row, finally dying in one of our traps.

The next few robberies were carried out by a series of different robbers carrying exactly $2000 worth of tools each time, even though our safe had dramatically less money in it than that at the time. Each robber deliberately destroyed many sections of wall even though the path to the safe was clear.

It looks to us very much as though the one player who was killed in the trap restarted many times with the intention of destroying our house. We thought the game had a system in place to prevent this kind of abuse, but if so it looks as though the player found a way around it (multiple accounts?).

The possibility of this happening in the future has reduced the incentive for us to keep playing at the moment. We think it's a great game and we'll be watching its progress with interest.

Last edited by bitbutter (2013-07-07 09:52:19)

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#2 2013-07-07 10:04:44

colorfusion
Member
Registered: 2013-04-02
Posts: 537

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

If your house has no wife and no money then it is removed from the list so that people cannot continue robbing it when there is nothing to gain from doing so.

Also if a player dies in your house there is a 1 hour cooldown until they can go into it again.

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#3 2013-07-07 10:06:00

bey bey
Member
Registered: 2013-04-20
Posts: 386

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

It's a huge and consistent problem that hasn't properly been dealt with. Bottom line: If he doesn't die in your house, he's able to come again and again and again...


In fact you can be batman.
(if he robbed houses and murdered families.)
- Dalleck

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#4 2013-07-07 10:56:29

Ludicrosity
Member
From: US
Registered: 2013-06-22
Posts: 144

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

This may have been me. I did tear down a house that kept appearing on the list while bored this morning, but it was pretty dead to begin with. I just assumed the owner would restart since what was left wasn't as good as what could be built with a fresh $2000.

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#5 2013-07-07 18:30:30

largestherb
Member
From: england
Registered: 2013-05-27
Posts: 381

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

Ludicrosity wrote:

This may have been me. I did tear down a house that kept appearing on the list while bored this morning, but it was pretty dead to begin with. I just assumed the owner would restart since what was left wasn't as good as what could be built with a fresh $2000.

no way! the idea of a 'beaten house' is a great way to lure people to their death when you've actually reconstructed around the blown up walls/traps.

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#6 2013-07-07 18:46:35

jasonrohrer
Administrator
Registered: 2013-04-01
Posts: 1,231

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

Yeah, that was you, Ludicrosity!

And, you came back in between, and fled the robbery without reaching the vault, to ensure that it wasn't taken off the list.  The current server doesn't remove a house from the list unless it has been vault-reached twice in a row, with no non-reach in between.  So, because you never reached the vault twice in a row, you could keep doing it repeatedly.

I responded to this affected player separately by email.

But yes, this is a huge problem.

Vault reaches save damage (so that the owner returns home to find damage leading to the vault).  Once a vault becomes "easy to reach," though, saving damage over and over, from people who are not doing damage in order to reach the vault, is problematic.

There's no obvious way for the server to distinguish between the two, though.

The "two vault reaches in a row" was supposed to handle it, but it clearly doesn't.

Also, I don't want to take a house off the list immediately after the first vault reach (because it could be a one-time-robbable house, and still be interesting for someone else to rob).

Also, I found an interesting situation the other day:  there was a house that looked hard to rob, and generally scared people away, but I had figured out the tool-free secret to the house (after using tools on the house one time for safety).  After that, I could milk salary from the house, because I could count on someone getting scared away in between to prevent the house from being taken off the list.

The real problem here is the exploitation of "at home suicide" for vandalism or any other purpose.  Even if you're using it to legitimately explore a house that you're trying to rob (by cutting a bunch of walls each time, looking for the vault), that's not really how the game is supposed to be played.  Tools used for scouting are supposed to be PRECIOUS.  But when you can get $2000 for free, over and over, by killing yourself at home....

I'm also looking for a solution that doesn't worsen the game for people who are not actually exploiting this.  You know, if suicide has a high penalty, then it unfairly hurts someone who needs to suicide for a good reason.  Or if each new life starts with less money, then it hurts someone who legitimately dies a few times in a row.

Also, it can't just be tied to suicide.... you could just go into a top house that you don't care about and die there, accepting the chill, as long as you can keep hammering what ever house you care about.

Limiting your fresh-life load-out has been suggested, but I don't want to limit that either (it's good that you have the choice to be either a robber or a home builder at the start of a new life).


Death (of any kind) leaves a chill on any house that you've been in during your last life?  Or leaves a chill on any house you've been in during the last hour?

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#7 2013-07-07 21:46:22

liq3
Member
Registered: 2013-07-07
Posts: 5

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

I just had this happen to me. Guy (Mr. Zayas) comes in with $2000 worth of tools, kills my family, steals $21, and destroys as much as possible. Doesn't reach the safe though. Then a Mr. Golden comes in with another $1500~ worth of tools, destroys more stuff, and gets to my safe stealing $22.

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#8 2013-07-07 23:07:11

bitbutter
Member
Registered: 2013-07-07
Posts: 16

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

Ah, that's interesting to know. Thanks.

Without having thought it through very carefully, once option that came to mind for us when this happened was that the amount of tools a robber could bring to rob a house would have a price limit which was affected by the loot currently available in that house. In conjunction with this, perhaps tool selection would happen after selecting a house to rob. Though it's not easy to think of a plausible 'realistic' reason for any such limit, and it would likely limit some 'legitimate' behaviours too.

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#9 2013-07-08 05:57:44

Ludicrosity
Member
From: US
Registered: 2013-06-22
Posts: 144

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

jasonrohrer wrote:

And, you came back in between, and fled the robbery without reaching the vault, to ensure that it wasn't taken off the list.  The current server doesn't remove a house from the list unless it has been vault-reached twice in a row, with no non-reach in between.  So, because you never reached the vault twice in a row, you could keep doing it repeatedly.

I really had no idea this was keeping it on the list and was not aware of the "two vault reaches in a row" rule. The reason I entered the house without tools then left was to see what sort of stuff was left remaining so I'd know what kind of tools to buy. I didn't want to bring a bunch of saws if there were only metal walls left. I came back and forth a lot since I'd forget what was left where.

Anyway, I honestly don't see a problem with "vandalism." Apparently it wasn't an intended aspect of the game, but there's a certain childish joy in wreaking carnage. My thought is "easy come easy go." Anyone too emotionally invested in wanting to preserve his current house is going to be in for a rude awakening when he dies, which happens all the time (unless you never rob others). The game seems to have a very high turn-over rate for lives, so I don't think being vandalized or logging on to find your house completely destroyed is a big deal. That just seems like part of the game to me.

That said, since others apparently disagree with me on this, I will henceforth stop all vandalism. I think this is a great game, and having a growing, happy community is way more important to me than any momentary joys of taking a sledgehammer to someone's dining room.

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#10 2013-07-08 06:24:15

bitbutter
Member
Registered: 2013-07-07
Posts: 16

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

Playing for a long time without dying is certainly possible.

I don't want players to be prevented from wantonly vandalising, i'd like for that choice to be there. But i don't want them to respawn deliberately in order to get tools in order to vandalise--since this makes destroying a strong and carefully thought-out house very easy--which significantly reduces the incentive to build houses like that, which makes the game far less entertaining.

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#11 2013-07-08 06:24:45

dalleck
Member
Registered: 2013-04-13
Posts: 250

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

Ludicrosity wrote:

That said, since others apparently disagree with me on this, I will henceforth stop all vandalism. I think this is a great game, and having a growing, happy community is way more important to me than any momentary joys of taking a sledgehammer to someone's dining room.

nOOooooo!!!

Don't change now, you hear?  (By the way please direct me to your house, I have a lovely sledgehammer here...)

Translation:  Screw them and blow up the house.  Let them have a cry about their precious.

If this game has taught me anything, it is not to get attached to things, be it property, pets or even family members.  Life is opportunities to innovate.  That is all.


The rich aren't safe. Nobody is safe. -jere                   ...but the smell wafts out from the pit, obviously. - Jason Rohrer

And the more dickish they are, the more I feel like beating a house to destruction after finally figuring it out. -bey bey

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#12 2013-07-08 06:47:52

ukuko
Member
Registered: 2013-04-06
Posts: 333

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

dalleck wrote:

If this game has taught me anything...

You forgot Rule #1: Always bring a brick.

Last edited by ukuko (2013-07-08 06:48:10)

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#13 2013-07-08 07:20:28

dalleck
Member
Registered: 2013-04-13
Posts: 250

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

ukuko wrote:
dalleck wrote:

If this game has taught me anything...

You forgot Rule #1: Always bring a brick.

Oh yes, and that too.


The rich aren't safe. Nobody is safe. -jere                   ...but the smell wafts out from the pit, obviously. - Jason Rohrer

And the more dickish they are, the more I feel like beating a house to destruction after finally figuring it out. -bey bey

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#14 2013-07-08 08:30:15

jasonrohrer
Administrator
Registered: 2013-04-01
Posts: 1,231

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

Well, the problem here is not vandalism... I like vandalism!

The problem here is limitless vandalism with no cost.  Everything in the game should have a cost.  You should be trading the opportunity to vandalize for some other opportunity.  Giving up X to achieve Y.

Of course, the root here is "free money on each new life with no strings attached and more waiting for you post-suicide, with no limit".  Thus, there is no interesting choice to make about how you spend that money, as long as you avoid dying in someone else's house (to avoid chills), your decisions in the current life have no effect on your next life.  Throwing that $2000 away is fine.

All that said, fixing this root problem is really hard, because it's connected to so many other aspects of the game.... in general, immediately after death, you WANT players to have a fresh start with money to build or rob with.  You also want them to have freedom at that point (don't want to shackle them into designing a house first before robbing, or whatever).  So, "making that starting money mean something" is a tough one that I'm going to dodge for now.  Maybe it will never be solved.  Essentially, it's a "nothing invested, nothing to lose" problem that plagues every game where you can restart in some way.  In a 1-player twitch game, you might insta-restart if you make a simple mistake in the first level, and opposed to playing out the rest of the game with one less heart, because you've got so little invested.  But if you lost a heart on level 10, you probably wouldn't restart... you'd keep going, because you had something invested.

So, for now, I'm going to focus on the symptoms.

In general, against a house with working security, these fresh-life robbers with $2000 worth of tools are not a threat.  If they're just plowing in without really playing, they're not going to make progress, and whatever damage they do will auto-revert.  They can do it until they're blue in the face, but since their activity has no effect, they'll stop doing it.

But a house with a reachable vault is currently forever-vulnerable to a respawning player with $2000 each time.  Yeah, if that vault is hit twice in a row, it goes off the list forever.  But if there's a living wife still, then it won't (she still has money).  Which means a respawning player can easily chip away to the wife by reaching the vault over and over to save damage.  That's also not interesting.

Still, I want to keep money flowing into one-time robbable houses, because they are still interesting challenges.

So, here's the solution I've come up with:

--A house with $0 total money goes off the list (same as right now).

--A house only keeps earning vault money (while owner is away) if it hasn't been vault-reached twice (not twice in a row, just twice total) since the owner's last repair job.

--A vault with $0 in it changes to a different sprite (empty vault sprite) and is NOT reachable to end a robbery (cannot even be stepped on).  Thus, leaving is the only way to end a robbery if the vault is empty (though wife might still have money to be taken).  So, reaching an empty vault with NOT save house damage.


This still gives fresh-start players an opportunity to free-money vandalize by reaching a vault that is still earning money, but only once per house, and only if they get there before someone else does.

REALLY trashing a house will still be possible, but only if you've saved up money to do it---in other words, only if it has an extreme cost.

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#15 2013-07-08 09:13:07

ukuko
Member
Registered: 2013-04-06
Posts: 333

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

jasonrohrer wrote:

--A vault with $0 in it changes to a different sprite (empty vault sprite) and is NOT reachable to end a robbery (cannot even be stepped on).  Thus, leaving is the only way to end a robbery if the vault is empty (though wife might still have money to be taken).  So, reaching an empty vault with NOT save house damage.

Hurrah! I was hoping for something like this.

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#16 2013-07-08 10:52:20

jasonrohrer
Administrator
Registered: 2013-04-01
Posts: 1,231

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

Okay, part of this is changed on the server (your vault stops earning money after it is reached by robbers twice, thus limiting vault-reach vandalism).

Working on the rest of it (empty vault sprite) now.  Will require a new client release.

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#17 2013-07-08 11:24:13

bey bey
Member
Registered: 2013-04-20
Posts: 386

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

Sounds good, I might give it another go. It's just so annoying if you scrape some cash together somehow to get something going and some random bloke (usually second or third robber) just turns everything to dust at no cost to him. Kills the motivation to play the game in a contributive fashion.


In fact you can be batman.
(if he robbed houses and murdered families.)
- Dalleck

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#18 2013-07-08 12:03:31

Ludicrosity
Member
From: US
Registered: 2013-06-22
Posts: 144

Re: Suicide vandalism exploit?

bitbutter wrote:

I don't want players to be prevented from wantonly vandalising, i'd like for that choice to be there. But i don't want them to respawn deliberately in order to get tools in order to vandalise--since this makes destroying a strong and carefully thought-out house very easy--which significantly reduces the incentive to build houses like that, which makes the game far less entertaining.

Good point. I guess there's a difference between someone working hard and building up enough money to blow it all on an epic house smashing and someone exploiting the respawn cash mechanism to simply go out and destroy someone's house at no cost/risk.

Either way, I'm officially swearing off all vandalism now.

dalleck wrote:

By the way please direct me to your house, I have a lovely sledgehammer here...

Maybe I shouldn't say this here, but ironically, my current house is actually very vulnerable to this sort of vandalism. I'm trying out one of the "put your vault right next to the door, but protect the hell out of your family" house strategies.

jasonrohrer wrote:

A vault with $0 in it changes to a different sprite (empty vault sprite) and is NOT reachable to end a robbery (cannot even be stepped on).  Thus, leaving is the only way to end a robbery if the vault is empty (though wife might still have money to be taken).  So, reaching an empty vault with NOT save house damage.

This sounds like a fantastic idea!

Last edited by Ludicrosity (2013-07-08 12:04:02)

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