Blizzard loves cheats? Are you sure? What about all their anti-cheat measures, like Rust Storm, Warden, and the mass bans we always hear about? Surely they wouldn’t fight something they are in favor of. Or would they? Let’s take a deeper look in to Diablo II and see just who is profiting from the use and abuse of cheating.
Types of Cheating
What is meant by a cheat anyway? Do you mean .exe hacks, in-game exploits, trade exploits, activities that affect the game economy, what? Does Blizzard love them all? There are actually quite a few different kinds of activities which can be classified as cheats, each with differing levels of severity. Some, while not being an intended activity of the designers, really don’t affect the game, while others cripple it to the point of unplayable. We’ll start with the most benign and work our way up from there.
Class A cheats (No real harm to the game)
- GUI modifications: Modifying item colors, highlighting items and monsters on the automap.
- Pickit hacks: Allowing your character to automatically pick up a user-defined list of items should they drop.
- Map Hacks: Automatically reveals the entire map.
- D2Loader: A no-cd loader for Diablo II which also allows you to run more than one client at a time.
Class A cheats have no real effect on the game outside of providing some automation for tasks a person could do just as well manually or providing some harmless bugs. Map hacks may at first appear to be a clear advantage, but the 10-15 seconds you save searching for an exit or portal are really only useful to a new player. The nature of Diablo II acquaints any player to the map layouts very quickly.
Class B cheats (Mild harm, more annoying than having any real effect on the game or economy)
- Glitch Rush bug: Normally you may not advance to the next difficulty (From Normal to Nightmare, or Nightmare to Hell) until your character level is sufficiently high enough. This means you must take the time to level up before you can advance, which can be fairly tedious. If you have a character who cannot advance stand in Act 5 while a player who is a high enough to advance, but hasn’t, defeats Baal, your low level character will advance as well.This is how players get level 1 characters into Hell, which also lets you collect all 3 Hellforges for that player fairly quickly. Before higher runes are widely duped, this is a fast way to get Um, Mal, Ist, and Gul runes.An added detriment to this bug is that once you advance to the next difficulty, you can not see games made from the previous difficulty, e.g. a player in Nightmare difficulty who defeats Baal and advances to Hell will no longer be able to see Nightmare games. The detriment is that players using the glitch rush bug will trick unknowing players into defeating Baal so their lower-level glitch-rushed character can advance. The tricked players will then not be able to join Nightmare games to level in while at the same time be far too weak to participate in Hell games. This is seen by the bug abusers as humorous.
- Drop trade hacks: Players are only allowed to carry a single Gheed’s Fortune, Hellfire Torch, and Annihilus at a time, e.g. if you already possess an Annihilus, you may not pick up another one and get twice the benefits. The problem is that these three items were not allowed to be placed in the trade screen, thus you were forced to drop them if you wanted to trade them to another player. Normally two players would stand fairly far apart, drop their items, then run to the other player’s position to collect their bounty; you had to take it on faith that the player would drop the proper item.As if this wasn’t bad enough, there were certain ways to cause other players to disconnect/crash from the game, which is where the hack comes in. Scammers would set up the trade, both players would drop their items, and the scammer would cause the other player to disconnect and then collect both valuable items, risk free.To Blizzard’s “credit”, they fixed this in June, 2006 (3 years after Annihilus and Gheed’s Fortune were introduced) by allowing all items to be placed in the trade screen.
Class B cheats can give you temporary advantages, but in the long run really don’t amount to much. Glitch rushing has no added benefit outside of slightly faster Hellforge quests and drop trade hacks are (finally) patched. Glitch rushing should be fixed, but is not particularly damaging.
Class C cheats (Severe harm to the game and economy)
- Item Bots: These are bots that are automated to kill major bosses repeatedly while collecting any good items that drop in the process. While they won’t render the game economy useless by flooding it with thousands of high end items, they can still have a marked effect, especially in regards to mid-level items.The users of these bots are quite proud of the items they “find”. One blizzsector.net forum member proclaims (alt) “I bot for about 8 hours a day (sleeping) now, but sometimes I run out of rejuv potions and am too lazy to run around and find them, so I just don’t bother running it at night.”Examples of such bots are d2jsp, EasyPlay (Now defunct), and mmBot. Of the three, d2jsp and EasyPlay are somewhat protected against by Blizzard, while mmBot has remained undetected by Blizzard and is widely used.
- PvP Bots: These include auto-aim bots and TPPK (Town Portal Player Kill) bots. TPPK bots are like autoaim bots, except they are used to kill players who are not dueling you. They work by firing a bolt weapon/spell at a player you would like to kill, quickly portaling to town and enabling hostile mode on that player.This is especially damaging when you are playing in hardcore mode, where a single death means the end of your character. If you are not careful about who you play with, your weeks or months of hard work on a character can be gone in an instant.
Class C cheats are where the quality of the game starts to deteriorate. The economy is impacted by item bots, the quality of PvP is lessened by aimbots, and the already high risk of hardcore mode is now heightened by the very community you participate in.
Class D cheats (Render the game unplayable and the economy a sham)
- Duping: Duping is when a player duplicates an item using an exploit. The Origin of Bugged Items is a very good article on the history of duping and bugged items.Duping effects the game in a myriad of ways. The first is that the rarity of any item is completely controlled by the duper. If the government allowed private citizens to both create and spend counterfeit money, money would lose all meaning. This is the exact situation Diablo II is in, and has been in, for years. The rarest items in the game can be found in abundance at any trading forum. Players are decked out in equipment that would literally have taken years to find if they had actually played the game instead of resorting to bots and duped items. The trading elite are not the ones who invest in the game or make shrewd trades, they are the players backed by dupers with virtually unlimited buying and selling potential.Counterfeit items running rampant are not the only problem. As mentioned in The Origin of Bugged Items, many people make a lot of money creating and selling these counterfeits. Online item stores such as d2legit, jpitems, and enzod2 are pathetically easy to find, whether by a web search or by getting spammed in-game. eBay is crawling with snakes selling their counterfeit wares; you can even find enterprising individuals on Blizzard’s forums offering up items for cash. One particularly inventive shyster has even found a way to combine two of his favorite hobbies: Exploiting dupes and defrauding Google’s Adsense program by bribing players to click his ads (alt1 alt2). Let’s hope the AdSense abuse team needs Diablo II items more than they need his fraudulent clicks!
The more dishonest merchants (such as d2legit), go so far as to claim “…unless otherwise noted, all items on the site, including runes and SoJs, are legit.” This statement, while it may be true in regards to the extremely common items in stock, is a blatant lie for any exceedingly rare item and especially for any high rune. In their defense, I know of nobody playing Diablo II who would be fooled by their disclaimer, so it is probably meant to sway undecided small time players and not to be taken literally. The hardcore players who buy items from these stores know and accept that the majority of the high end items are dupes.
The counterfeit market additionally creates an atmosphere where you either use the counterfeits yourself or fall painfully behind the rest of the players in the game. When every player except you is using the most powerful items in the game, you either cheat to compete or give up. Futher more, many players don’t have the time to gather items to trade up for counterfeits or the knowledge of how to use cheats and bots and are forced to spend actual money buying items that a duper can clone to his hearts content. The situation is even worse than printing money in your basement as the sale of dupes is legal.
Now you can claim that the players are not forced to play the game, to cheat, to spend money on counterfeit items, and that they find real enjoyment in participating in the community, and you are mostly likely right (This is of course ignoring the players who do not have wads of time to play, refuse to cheat, and refuse to pay money for counterfeit goods). However, the agent that is perpetuating this fraud and benefitting the most is not the scammers or the players who support them; it is Blizzard. After I outline what Blizzard has done to counter the problems in the game and the effects of their efforts, you will hopefully see why I say this.
What has Blizzard Done?
Patch 1.06 – Dupe Scan
On April 19th, 2001, Blizzard released Version 1.06 of Diablo II. This patch featured a new dupe scan with the following description.
The Diablo II Realms now scan characters for duplicate items. If a player is found to have more than one of the same item, the duplicate items will be deleted leaving just one of that item.
Their FAQ further clarifies their altruistic reasoning for leaving a single item behind.
Q: Why did Blizzard Entertainment only delete some of the dupes, and not every dupe?
A: Blizzard Entertainment wants to maintain an enjoyable and balanced play experience for every user. To that end, we removed all but one duplicate item. We’re making an effort to protect those players that legitimately traded for those items.
Ahh, how thoughtful! They’re going to punish the cheaters by removing all but a single dupe from a (possibly legitimate) player’s inventory! Wait, what? How is this going to deter cheating? If anything, the players who are unable to make dupes and are forced to rely on the dupes as currency will now be penalized for it, while the dupers will enjoy a nice price gouging as the items they print off in their basement become scarce.
Patch 1.08 – Dupe Methods Blocked
On June 19, 2001, Blizzard released Version 1.08 of Diablo II. This patch claimed to block all known duping methods and to continue the dupe deletion started in 1.06
Q: What is Blizzard’s policy on item duping?
A:We believe that item duping undermines the basic rules of fair play and detracts from the spirit of true competition. Furthermore, we have discouraged item duping by blocking all known duping exploitations and have removed duped items from our servers. We shall continue to monitor and stop any attempts at item duplication
Despite their claims, duping was not blocked and their generous offer to purge items from legitimate players still stood; just how the dupes were able to survive long enough to propogate into the community and be used by players will be covered in the next section.
Patch 1.10 – Mass Bans, The Ladder, Annihilus, Rune Words, and Poofing
The first of the Diablo II mass bans took place right before Version 1.10. On June, 10, 2003, Blizzard banned 112,000 accounts in keeping with their “aggressive stance against cheating”. This will turn out to be the first major tipoff on just how much Blizzard loves cheaters. You don’t ban 112,000 accounts without either wanting to make a strong statement and risk a community and market backlash or in an attempt to lure back addicted, and now banned, players who cheat and prosper because of your “aggressive stance against cheating”.
You see, the cheaters typically have many CD-Keys and run multiple clients at once, either to run multiple bots or to keep games open so they can transfer their items from character to character (especially to characters with clean CD-Keys that have never been flagged for cheating). This obviously means they are always acquiring new CD-Keys (alt) and will re-buy the game if necessary to continue playing. It is common to read about players on forums who have been banned for cheating, yet just buy a new CD-Key and start from scratch. Cheaters getting banned and still attempting to play because their cheats still work? “Backlash” is probably not the first thought that springs to mind.
A couple months after the first mass ban, Version 1.10 was released. A lot of new content was added, most of which is very interesting when you consider it from a cheaters perspective. One of the biggest new features was the introduction of the Ladder.
Introduced a new Ladder System for those who prefer to play free from any characters who may have participated in past item duping or hacking. To use this new feature, a player places a check in the Ladder box upon character creation — in the same way that Expansion and Hardcore selection is done. Periodically, the Ladder may be reset, adding the old Ladder characters to the regular population — who, of course, cannot play games with the new season’s Ladder characters. Thus, every season each new Ladder character truly starts from scratch, as no ‘twinking’ is possible from older characters.
The ladder also introduced many new and powerful Rune Words that were not available in non-ladder games. We will discuss Rune Words later, but for the moment just know that the new Rune Words were a very strong enticement to play on the Ladder, although perhaps not strong enough if you do not take the inevitablilty of cheating into account. The clean slate economy from each ladder reset would also be enticing to any player, but while it may have looked like a great chance for some clean fun to legit players, the low supply and enormous demand would prove to be irresistible to the cheaters and dupers Blizzard claimed to despise so vehemently.
The new patch also introduced many new items. The most interesting item is the Annihilus charm. You see, by this time there were millions of duped Stone of Jordans floating around, commonly referred to as a “soj”. Even though sojs are fairly rare when playing normally, they were duped massively early in Diablo II and became the main currency of the game. The designers, possibly in an attempt to clean up the world of duped sojs as their other methods weren’t working, created an Uber Diablo monster who only spawns when 100 sojs have been sold to NPC (Non Player Character) stores in a server. When you kill Uber Diablo, he drops a single Annihilus (commonly referred to as anni) charm, which is immensely powerful.
Oh, did I forget to mention that Blizzard runs multiple servers per single machine, and that Uber Diablo will spawn on all of them, even if you sell the sojs in a non-ladder game and host a ladder game, and that the ladder economy is much less infested with dupes compared to the non-ladder economy? Oh yeah, the players with the duped sojs will also create co-ops where multiple people each contribute 10-15 sojs, decide on a server to sell sojs on, all create multiple games with D2Loader and their plethora of CD-Keys, then collect their legitimate and very valuable and powerful Annihilus charms for a fraction of the 100 soj cost.
This may be setting off yet another alarm in your mind in regards to Blizzard’s “aggressive stance against cheating”. Here we have the game designers intentionally creating a way to turn duped items into very valuable new items which legitimate players can never find legitimately. You must be playing in a heavily duped environment such as non-ladder and possess a great many sojs to ever intentionally spawn Uber Diablo. A legitimate player will never find 100 sojs of his own outside of cheating with bots or buying dupes from item stores and other players, although even a bot would be hard pressed to find 100 sojs in a timely manner (rough estimates at 70 hours of playing per soj found = 290 days of straight playing to hit 100 sojs. Myself and two friends found 2 sojs in 3-4 months of playing). In case you were wondering, there are still plenty of duped sojs floating around as Blizzard has never fixed duping.
Runes and Rune Words
Since we’re on the subject of rewarding dupers and cheaters, let’s move on to runes and the new Rune Words in 1.10. The description of a rune from The Arreat Summit, Blizzard’s guide on Diablo II, is as follows:
Runes are small stones inscribed with magical glyphs that can be inserted into Socketed Items. Runes are different from other Insertable Items: not only do individual Runes have set magical properties, certain combinations (or Rune Words), when inserted into an item in the proper order, give that item even more wondrous abilities.
There are 33 runes, each more scarce than the one before it. To give you an idea of how scarce they become, here is a table with the odds of each rune dropping per monster killed. Note: The Countess is a boss monster who drops lower runes with a much higher frequency than most other monsters. All values are approximate and vary per monster.
Rune (Rank) Countess Super Boss Normal Monster ----------- -------- ------------ -------------- El ( 1 ) 1/2 1/150 1/3,400 Eld ( 2 ) 1/3 1/200 1/5,000 Tir ( 3 ) 1/4 1/300 1/6,200 Nef ( 4 ) 1/4 1/450 1/9,200 Eth ( 5 ) 1/5 1/430 1/8,800 Ith ( 6 ) 1/6 1/600 1/13,000 Tal ( 7 ) 1/6 1/530 1/10,000 Ral ( 8 ) 1/8 1/700 1/15,000 Ort ( 9 ) 1/9 1/750 1/15,000 Thul ( 10 ) 1/13 1/1,100 1/22,000 Amn ( 11 ) 1/14 1/1,300 1/24,800 Sol ( 12 ) 1/20 1/1,500 1/12,000 Shael( 13 ) 1/27 1/2,600 1/47,000 Dol ( 14 ) 1/41 1/3,500 1/70,000 Hel ( 15 ) 1/53 1/5,000 1/91,000 Io ( 16 ) 1/80 1/6,800 1/130,000 Lum ( 17 ) 1/100 1/9,000 1/180,000 Ko ( 18 ) 1/160 1/13,000 1/270,000 Fal ( 19 ) 1/200 1/17,000 1/350,000 Lem ( 20 ) 1/300 1/28,000 1/530,000 Pul ( 21 ) 1/423 1/35,000 1/715,000 Um ( 22 ) 1/635 1/53,000 1/1,000,000 Mal ( 23 ) 1/739 1/60,000 1/1,200,000 Ist ( 24 ) 1/1,100 1/90,000 1/1,800,000 Gul ( 25 ) 1/120,000 1/100,000 1/2,100,000 Vex ( 26 ) 1/185,000 1/160,000 1/3,200,000 Ohm ( 27 ) 1/210,000 1/200,000 1/3,800,000 Lo ( 28 ) 1/320,000 1/260,000 1/5,000,000 Sur ( 29 ) NA 1/350,000 1/6,500,000 Ber ( 30 ) NA 1/500,000 1/10,000,000 Jah ( 31 ) NA 1/600,000 1/11,000,000 Cham ( 32 ) NA 1/800,000 1/17,000,000 Zod ( 33 ) NA 1/3,000,000 1/60,000,000
To put these drop odds in perspective, we will need to figure out how many monsters you can kill on average. Blizzard limits you to joining around 20 games an hour (this is to combat item bots, although it often combats legitimate players from playing), giving you about 3 minutes per game. There are around 10-15 “Super Bosses” you can kill to give you a chance at the higher runes. Assuming you can get 5 in 2 minutes (highly unlikely without a bot unless you target weaker super bosses with much worse drop odds), that would give you about a minute for average monsters for which I’ll generously claim 50 kills. These numbers would give you 5*20 = 100 Super Bosses an hour and 50*20 = 1,000 regular monsters an hour. Plugging these numbers in for the high runes, we get:
Rune (Rank) Hours Required To Find ----------- ------------------------ Gul ( 25 ) 693 hours or 28 days Vex ( 26 ) 1,086 hours or 45 days Ohm ( 27 ) 1,318 hours or 54 days Lo ( 28 ) 1,753 hours or 73 days Sur ( 29 ) 2,275 hours or 94 days Ber ( 30 ) 3,333 hours or 138 days Jah ( 31 ) 3,882 hours or 161 days Cham ( 32 ) 5,440 hours or 226 days Zod ( 33 ) 20,000 hours or 833 days
Now runes in and of themselves are not that useful. A few of them have nice magical properties, but on the whole you almost never use a rune on it’s own. Instead, you combine them in to powerful Rune Words. A Rune Word is a set of runes placed in a socketed item in a set order; think of it as a recipe for a powerful item with the runes being the ingredients. The definition of a Rune Word from The Arreat Summit is:
If the player puts certain combinations of Runes in the correct order into an item with exactly that number of sockets and of the correct item type, the item’s name will change into a “unique” name, displayed in gold, and the item will acquire extra powers, depending on the “rune word” that was used.
Let’s take a look at the cost of some of the new Rune Words from the 1.10 patch. From the odds, we will assume that finding a single rune will provide one of each rune below it, so finding a Zod will give you one of each rune below to work with. This does not exactly hold up in the real game due to varied drop odds for different monsters.
Runeword Days ------------------------------------------------------- ------------- Breath of the Dying: Vex + Hel + El + Eld + Zod + Eth 833(Zod) days Call To Arms: Amn + Ral + Mal + Ist + Ohm 54(Ohm) days Chains of Honor: Dol + Um + Ber + Ist 138(Ber) days Doom: Hel + Ohm + Um + Lo + Cham 226(Cham) days Enigma: Jah + Ith + Ber 161(Jah) days Exile: Vex + Ohm + Ist + Dol 54(Ohm) days Heart of the Oak: Ko + Vex + Pul + Thul 26(Vex) days Faith: Ohm + Jah + Lem + Eld 161(Jah) days Grief: Eth + Tir + Lo + Mal + Ral 73(Lo) days Infinity: Ber + Mal + Ber + Ist 276(Ber*2) days Last Wish: Jah + Mal + Jah + Sur + Jah + Ber 483(Jah*3) days Phoenix: Vex + Vex + Lo + Jah 161(Jah) days
It would take a legit player 2.2 years of non-stop playing before he/she found a Zod rune to complete Breath of the Dying. Last Wish would take a paltry 1.32 years. Infinity clocks in at 0.75 years. It should be further pointed out that once a rune is used in an item, it is gone for good. There is no way to extract a rune from an item, so if you mess up a recipe or want to create another Rune Word, you will need to find another copy of each rune. The very act of using a rune will implicitly drive the demand for that rune higher. Every rune and runeword I listed are available virtually without limit from item stores and traders on Blizzard’s official forums and have been since around one month after the last ladder/economy reset.
To get an idea of how often the higher runes are legitimately found, in about 3-4 months of playing, myself and 2 friends found a total of 1 Mal, 2 Ist, 3 Vex, and 1 Ohm. Meanwhile the market had been so flooded with dupes that high runes were readily available for most of the time we were playing even though the ladder had just been reset and everybody was starting from zero. Now, a year later, traders on forums will make deals involving hundreds of high runes (alt) at a time. 2.2 years of non-stop playing time to find a Zod and you can purchase 40 “legit” Zods (alt) for $24 at d2legit.com. Many thousands more are implicitly available in pre-made runewords made with the highest grade items. Please remind me again how an “aggressive stance against cheating” results in Rune Words blatantly made for cheaters, online stores selling thousands of counterfeit goods, and the absolute destruction of the game’s economy a month after each ladder reset?
As one player on Blizzard’s forums said:
I agree with most people saying that dupe hack are really a plague but runewords like Last Wish look as they are made to tell people “Try a dupe mod, it’s the only way to make this…”
Up to this point, we’ve seen Blizzard create a ladder with a clean economy that is ripe for huge profits from cheating (both in game and out), create items such as the Annihilus that a legitimate player can never acquire, and create Rune Words that would take a legitimate player many years of playing to collect the necessary runes. With their “aggressive stance against cheating”, you would think they would have done something for the legitimate players. Well, it turns out you are right. They have kept the exact same dupe-scanning system which has been in place since 1.06! You know, the one that doesn’t hurt dupers and penalizes legitimate players? The “technical” term for an illegal item being deleted is “poofing”, and it is the cornerstone of Blizzard’s ability to allow duping while keeping the economy from turning into World War One Deutschmarks.
While it is true the system will detect and delete dupes, there is a miniscule catch; a tiny, insignificant, hardly worth mentioning, extremely well known method of bypassing this check. In fact, there are multiple well known methods (Perming Guide from 1.09 anyone?), although there may be many more that are kept secret by the duping community.
The easiest method is simple and extremely reliable. If you socket a duped rune in an item, the duped rune will be safe from poofing. Therefore you can take your duped Vex and Zod runes (along with the easy to find Hel, El, Eld, and Eth runes), socket them properly in an 6 socket Poleaxe weapon, and you will have a “Breath of The Dying” Poleaxe which is perfectly safe from poofing. You can even socket a single Vex rune in your weapon for safe keeping until you acquire a Zod to complete the Rune Word.
A more popular method is the one that allows you to protect any dupe from poofing, whether it is a rune, item, jewel, charm, whatever. Our good friends at enzod2.com have instructions on how to “temp perm” items you buy with real money from their counterfeit store. This method is known by nearly all players and is widely used to keep vast stores of dupes safe from deletion while trading.
The Temp Perm Method will only allow you to keep your dupes for THAT game ONLY. You MUST repeat the Temp Perm Method for EVERY game in order for your dupes to never disappear. Also, Runewords that are made out of duplicate runes will not have to be permed.
The Temp Perm Method:
- Open a trade window with another player.
- Put your duped/potential duped item you want to perm in the trade window. (This step is actually optional).
- Save + Exit immediately after closing your trade window.
- The above will work every time, just do not forget to do it every game to be safe.
Remember to make sure you have the trade window up before cancelling the trade window and then exiting game.
Note that if you forget to do this, you will risk losing any duped items. If you do not realize that the item you just traded for is a dupe, if you accidently forget to “temp perm” your dupes, if you do not think that dupers would traffic in such a low item, you risk losing your items. A search for “poof” on Blizzard’s official USWest Ladder forum yields hundreds of results.
- 20/19/7 “legit” anni i bought from you poofed.. sigh..
- Don’t feel bad, last night my 399/39/15 Grief, 27× 20 life SC’s, and my 140/15/40 Dungo poofed. Paid 64 HR’s for all of it, lol.
- the coa that poofed on me was a 2/26/30. hopin for stats around there LEGIT tho plz.
- maras must be legit, I have had so many items poof lately its not funny. Post Offers.
- My 15 sup 1368 Archon Enigma poofed on me
- yep mine just poofed. leave stats and price. this fvcking sucks.
- perfect coa, lucky to get 30 for it lately, too many dupes and too many poofing
- um both of your sojs poofed on me ….
- ya its duped; just not mass duped..but still will poof w/o perm
Granted, none of these posts were by legitimate players, but that is to be expected. The economy is so flooded by dupes now that you can not buy or trade any item of higher than medium value without having a high probability of it being duped. You can also not sell a valuable item without risking it finding it’s way to a duper, who then carefully floods the market with copies. Trading forums will often have a list of banned dupes, such as d2jsp.org’s list of banned items on USEast Ladder. These lists are of course always incomplete, always growing, and have no effect on the propagation or trading of dupes. You can not accept Diablo II items from other players and stay legitimate at the same time. Thanks for looking out for the little guy, Blizzard!
Where To Now?
Little has changed since the 1.10 patch. Blizzard did have a 36,000 account mass ban on Aug, 11, 2005. The mass ban happened to coincide with the latest ladder reset and the release of Version 1.11 which added a few new items, a new quest, a new anti-cheat tool borrowed from World of Warcraft called Warden, and absolutely nothing against duping. Another mass ban of 35,000 accounts occurred on July 24, 2006; other than a possible revenue boost to Blizzard, the effects of the ban were little.
To Blizzard’s credit, Warden has been largely successful in chasing out most hacks. The downside is that it has taken nearly a year for hack authors to back down, mostly due to the glacial update frequency of Warden. Even worse, mmBot, one of the truly damaging programs, has remained completely undetected. Proponents of mmBot claim it is because mmBot is driven by AutoIt, a script-driven engine which does not hack Diablo in any way and works purely off of graphical analysis, but this is a weak reason to ignore it.
To Blizzard’s major discredit, duping was not, nor has ever been, fixed. Bugged Non-Ladder items from previous patches are rampant in the ladder economy, almost any valuable item is a dupe (whether the person trying to trade claims it is legit or not), legitimate players are at risk every time they acquire items they do not find themselves, and nobody cares because business is scamming, and scamming is good. The black market is the market and is dictated by what the dupers manage to acquire and sell to the public, nothing else.
You could argue that the game is successful because of the hacks and dupes and not in spite of them. You might also argue that without the joy of finding items with bots, the glee of killing other players with third party hacks, or the pride of selling counterfeit items to strangers is a game in itself, and worthy of supporting. You could even argue that Blizzard is merely giving the people what they want and should be lauded for their keen business sense. Whatever you argue, one thing is certain: With each update to Diablo II and each failure to either fix duping or admit defeat and end the game, Blizzard is saying loud and proud: We Love Diablo II Cheats!
I will admit that the community in no way helped inform my feelings on the game. Where exactly is the fun in participating in a community where you must interact with hordes of immature con-artists who have no integrity and whose only goal in life seems to be sucking up to the stronger while trampling the weaker? Who wants to talk with people who think insults, bragging, lying, scamming, and illiteracy are virtues? The have-nots are little better, constantly begging and then insulting you if you do not do enough for them as I have seen many times over while attempting to give items away. The few honest players doing their best to make the game more enjoyable for everyone only hasten the rise of the gutter-trash to the top. Were there no corruption in the game and the players remained the same I would still not interact with them, but I believe the increased enjoyment from a clean economy would make up for their presence.
In any event, there has been a bit of posturing over a possible new patch and ladder reset, and the official suggestions report contains “Run regular Ruststorms weekly to help remove Duped Items” and not “Remove duping entirely”. If the trends of the past 6 years continue, it looks like everyone can look forward to another glorious ladder season which will slowly spiral downward as the dupers once again squeeze every penny out of the arbitrary economy they have ruled all these years.