A veteran video game network coder says The Division may need a "complete rewrite" to fix its ongoing cheating problem.
In a post on his blog, former Respawn and Sony programmer Glenn Fiedler, who has specialised in network coding, outlined base-level problems that could explain the issues the game has faced.
Although some glitches are "things the QA department should have probably picked up," and can be fixed, Fiedler found evidence of a more fundamental problem that he described as "super bad news."
Fiedler believes, based on viewing videos of cheating apps, that The Division uses a "trusted client" network model.
Trusted client models have servers "believe" everything that a player's game tells them - even if that includes hacked statistics or other information.
"I sincerely hope this is not the case, because if it is true, my opinion of can this be fixed is basically no. Not on PC. Not without a complete rewrite."
By comparison, Fiedler, says, "top-tier competitive FPS games" use a combination of client-side prediction, lag compensation and server-first tracking, in which "what happens on the server is all that counts and the server never trusts what the client says they’re doing."
In that setup, cheaters cannot use client-side hacks, because ultimately only the server's version of events matters.
"If a competitive FPS was networked the other way, with client trusted positions, client side evaluation of bullet hits and “I shot you” events sent from client to server, it’s really difficult for me to see how this could ever be made completely secure on PC," Fiedler says.
The Division's problems with hacking and cheating have become so bad of late that they have hit mainstream media, with even the notoriously unsavvy Fox News making a joke about it.
Ubisoft has promised to "act a lot more strongly" towards cheaters, but if the problem is as fundamental as Fiedler suggests, punishing hackers won't be enough.