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How cheaters cheat: boosting

Continuing our series about how people cheat in video games online, we have come to "boosting." Boosting is using illegitimate means in online multiplayer to receive tons of easy XP, effortless killstreaks, or to increase your level quickly. It usually involves colluding with at least one other person or a group of people who are all helping you.

Halo 4 brought back TrueSkill

For example, you and a friend are on different teams in Call of Duty (easiest in free-for-all). You meet up and find a secluded area of the map where you will likely not be found and then you kill your friend. He respawns right there with a tactical insertion and you repeat the process, killing him over and over until you have earned a free nuke or MOAB. Check out an example of this behavior in the video below. This was an illegitimate way of earning the killstreak. You boosted to do it.

Another game series known for boosters is Halo, but especially past Halo games which used the TrueSkill matchmaking system such as Halo 2 and Halo 3 (the newly released Halo 4 also uses TrueSkill). There are multiple methods of boosting in Halo.

One example is boosting to a level 50 in Lone Wolves (the ranked free-for-all playlist) on Halo 3 by abusing the language settings. Normally the game prevents you from entering a Lone Wolves game with anybody else in your party, but there were ways around it such as you and your friends changing your "My Language" settings to a language nobody else really uses. Then when you and your group of friends all searched in matchmaking, you would simply find each other. The player who was designated to get his 50 would then just be allowed to wreck everybody.

Another method of boosting was for someone to tank their own TrueSkill rating by quitting hundreds of games. Then when a friend played with this person later on, usually in Team Doubles, you would level up much faster than normal because the gain was based on the team's average TrueSkill rating. An alternative method of boosting this way is for a high level player to make a new, low level account and then play with his normal teammates. The opponents they would be matched up against would be easier because of the low level account in their party.

Yet another way of boosting in Halo is to overload the game with a full party in playlists that allowed you a max number of party members that was greater than the number of teammates you had. For example, in Halo: Reach's Invasion playlist, team size was 6 players but the max party size is 12 players. This enabled full parties of friends to get players on the other team if they wanted (e.g. a party of 8 players would have 2 people on the other team). Those players could then simply stand there, allowing their friends to repeatedly kill them and boost their kill/death ratio, wrack up medals, and get free wins.

Players have also been known to boost for achievements online, such as letting other players splatter them with a Mongoose for the Mongoose Mowdown achievement on Halo 3. At first glance, this type of boosting may seem relatively innocuous but it still ends up ruining the legitimacy and competitiveness of the game for others when everybody else is simply trying to boost their achievements.

Players who boost are stat-obsessed nerds who need to make themselves look good. They think that having a 10:1 k/d ratio earns them respect and will do anything to achieve this. In reality, most players will know a boosted service record when they see it and rather than earning their respect, your unbelievably good stats will have the opposite effect. Unlike some of the other forms of cheating which may actually be fun for the cheater, boosting is tedious work. It's not fun. There is really no point in doing it and it is just a waste of everybody's time.


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