Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Cheating in World of Tanks

Among recent spam comments I deleted were several links that promised cheat programs for World of Tanks, like revealing all enemy tanks or aimbots. Many people believe such hacks and cheats exist, because there is a well documented history of wallhacks and aimbots for games like Counterstrike. But fact is that in World of Tanks the determination whether you see or hit an enemy is done server-side, not client-side. Thus wallhacks and aimbots are technically impossible. While you can make textures transparent, you only "see" the tank hidden behind the obstacle if that tank was legitimately detected by you or another tank in radio contact. And instead of fiddling with the textures you could simply press the ALT key to show these tanks. Instead of helping you win games, the promised cheat and hack programs for World of Tanks only install malware on your computer.

But another form of cheating exists in World of Tanks, and it is not even forbidden by Hitbox tank skins. Basically in WoT your tank isn't equally vulnerable from all sides or in all locations. There are weak spots which are more likely to be penetrated, or where specific critical hit events can occur. Shoot at the first or last "wheel" of a tank's tracks, and you are more likely to shoot his tracks off than if you'd hit another part of them. As there are very many different tanks in World of Tanks, and besides some general rules it isn't easy to find and remember all the weak spots, some people use hitbox tank skins to point them out. Basically instead of seeing a tank in usual camouflage colors, the texture of the tank has been changed in some way to show either in black and white or with some color code the most vulnerable spots of the enemies. I've been aware of these skins for a while, as they are heatedly debated on the forums. And after a reader asked my opinion about them, I even went ahead and installed them to test them out, counting on patch 7.0 to reset them to normal afterwards.

Hitbox skins clearly are an advantage to the players using them. Legalistically you might claim they aren't "cheating", because there is no rule against them. But they are clearly unfair and against the spirit of the rules. Having said that, hitbox skins are not always useful. For example if you play artillery, the skins do strictly nothing, as your aiming circle is always bigger than the tank you want to hit, and you can't aim at a specific spot. For the same reason hitbox skins do not help if you shoot from some distance, or see the enemy tank only by his red outline behind a bush. Hitbox skins help most if you drive a medium or light tank, which is fast enough to get into a position close to an enemy tank where you can really aim at a weak spot. Seeing the best hitzones does help, but it isn't a huge cheat which makes you invincible.

Patch 7.0 promises new customizable tank skins, where the enemy sees the tank you *you* chose, even with a guild logo if you want to. So some people speculated that if the tank skins become server side, then the cheating with hitbox skins would stop. Unfortunately that isn't the case. The forums report that there is a workaround, where you make the individualized tank skins invisible, and thus the cheating hitbox skins visible. And only enforces the use of regular textures in official WoT "e-sports" tournaments, claiming that using them makes you a worse player if you don't have them around to help you.

Personally, I don't consider hitzone skins a game breaker. You could even argue that they could have a legit use for people learning how to play the game. But ideally online PvP games should be completely without cheats of any kind, and it would be good if could find a way to remove them.

IT kinda reminds me of Quake multiplayer (all the quake games) - there were commands to make every enemy player use one model, and every friendly player use a different one. Then there were "greenskin" versions of those models, where it was a bright green skin that would be visible in any environment. That's competition standard for quake, not an exploit in any manner.

As you've said though Tobold, WoT is a far cry from the madness of a quake game so this exploit doesn't seem that great.
I installed them and I play with them, but honestly I don't see them having any use except making tanks look like Christmas trees. When the update kills them, I won't bother reinstalling them. Following up on what you wrote:
- for arty they are useless
- medium to long-distance firing, the circle is so big than hitting the weak spot is russian roulette
- at short range moving around is usually more important than shooting well, as moving makes you a harder target for all those who shoot you.

As for it being a "cheat": WoT ALREADY provides information on weak spots: your penetration indicator turns green when you're aiming at a weak area, so it's not like it's very hard to know where to shoot.... weak spots also tend to be located always in the same places.

Overall I find that the game is so much random than worrying about stats or performance is idiotic (matchmaking not taking into account upgrades, near-impossible communication with teammates due to the lame chatbox, too short delay before a battle start, no time to talk after, no combat log or reliable combat data, cheat-mode gold ammo which allows you to ignore weak spots or damage higher-tier tanks easily). The good of WoT is "log in, click, enter battle, click click boom boom, log out". It's just good fun, and if a game sucks you just rush, suicide and move to the next battle... why would I worry about "cheating"?
>Hitbox skins clearly are an advantage to the players using them.
they are not.
first of all you must hit exacly that place in enemy armor
and even if you hit them there is saferoll 50 or 70 percent that there will be no damage to module.
And how is knowing WHERE you have to hit not an advantage?
They are no more a "cheat" than bossmods in WoW.

Seriously. You act like it is a huge advantage, but the only time it really makes a difference is in clan wars, and there you are either

a) fighting a Tier 10 heavy meaning there are only 4 tanks to remember (on a T30 the easy pen spot is "everything under the turret") or

b) you aren't fighting a Tier 10 heavy and you pen much everywhere with any gun worth bringing to a clan war.

It really isn't that hard to remember for everything else. Front > Sides > rear. Aim for hatches and vision blocks. Lower glacis is almost always a good idea.

Hit the back of the turret for an ammo rack. Hit the front or rear wheels to track. Hit the gun to crit it. Those are are really the only crits that matter, especially at the ranges where you can reliably hit them.

(At about 3.4 million damage and almost 4K kills, I've probably got a decent idea of how to penetrate armor.)
And how is knowing WHERE you have to hit not an advantage?

How do I have to have a day-glo skin to know where to hit?
Are you saying that cheating is okay if the advantage it gives you isn't huge?
No, I am saying that not everything that gives one person or another an advantage is a "cheat".

Crutches on your arm in bowling aren't cheating.

Wearing batting gloves in baseball isn't cheating.

Wearing elbow pads in soccer isn't cheating.

Those are all things that some players thing give them an advantage, and some players think are useless at best and sometimes actually inhibit a skilled player. (Just like hit box skins in WoT.)

A skin that doesn't really convey any more information that is publicly available and easily remembered is not a cheat. It doesn't think the armor, aim the gun or in any other way interfere with the game mechanics.
I don't use hitbox skins, it's really not that hard for me to keep track of the weak spots on a tank as I've been playing since early beta. Honestly I don't think they'd make that much of a difference other than looking stupid. The only thing that concerns me is the comment you made about hoping Wargaming would find a way to prevent these skins from being used.

The only conceivable way to prevent hitbox skins would be to make ALL custom skins nonfunctional. This would mean that all the skins people install just for fun, or to make their tank look more appealing to them personally, would be thrown out the window in an attempt to crack down on something which is only very fuzzily classifiable as a cheat. I don't mind people using hitbox skins against me as long as I can use pony skins against them :D
Skins are helpful most to the people that need them. The ones that dont know the game very well and cant remember all the spots. I wont use skins due to them being just fugly, and I have a good idea where to hit anyway. Seems to me the ones pissing and moaning about this the most are the ones that know all the spots and dont want any more competition. Its already been stated that skins in a fast knife fight wont help. The recticule wont even hit that accurate when your moving so much. I say let people use them and it will give for a better fight. Of course some dont WANT a good fight.
if hitbox skins are to be called a cheat then any game-guide is also a cheat..

now don't get me wrong, i dont use either hitboxes or game-guides myself,
i feel like they are like putting stabaliser wheels on a bike, something for the newbies who are trying to learn, ideally it is better to ask, but as was mentioned previously in these comments, the communication apparatus is somewhat lacking

something more useful than hitboxes would be enhanced control over the chat visuals, i.e. different colours for different classes, or different types of message, already the brackets label for tank seem to help alot..

MrExample (T-50-2) Attention to A3...
who cant guess the intent here?

this is more useful than any hitbox

anyway, although that point is a total diversion, there is the genuine point to make that location isnt everything, or rather, it's different depending on the angle
as far as i am told, there is a red box over the engine on the side of the maus hitbox skin, but this will make people bounce and waste shots if they think the hitbox is what its all about..

all this crap im talking is just to reinforce the point - it's a learning aid that doesnt actually confer any advantage..

it's natural to mistrust them when you dont need them yourself, in the same way that a person who doesnt need a calculator may feel they are being cheated out of a competetive edge when taking a maths test.

just keep in mind that it isn't about the numbers, it's about teamwork, if somebody doesnt know where to shoot, tell them, maybe that way less people will feel the need to use hitbox skins (i mean tell them when it actually matters, don't wait til they have already bounced)
I haven't been around since bèta, I have considered using these skins to learn about the weakpoints instead I use the information experienced players share during battles.
(The rare occassions that they do.)
Also I read the game wiki and various topics in the forum.
My friends accuse me of taking the game too serious.
I try out evert tip and piece of advice, and like said before by someone else, I can't care less about the slight advantage these wannabe gamers have.
It can be compared with auto aim. When it matters it's just doesn't cut it.
When you are in the heat of the battle, you need to know where to aim, not look for it.
> Tobold said...
And how is knowing WHERE you have to hit not an advantage?

So if these hitboxes were published online, on a website, studying those would also be a cheat?

Many of the hitzones for WoT are true to life (or close to it), would checking out where the ammo was stored on wikipedia for a particular tank be cheating?

The first time I ever encountered a T-29 with the upgraded turret, a teammate told me to "shoot it in the ears".....was he helping me cheat?

I use Grepa's Icon mod ( that displays turret & hull FSR armor values, so I am always reminded of where to NOT shoot the enemy. Is this also a cheat?

I'm pointing out how narrow your statement is. Hitzone skins are a visual aid, yes. Are they a cheat? No. Do you have an advantage knowing where to shoot the enemy if you want to attempt at module damage? Yes. But this is an advantage that you can obtain, as I've pointed out, in any number of ways. And if you're serious about upping your quality of play, whether for yourself or competitive play, you WILL look up and remember this information, with the skins or not.

The argument that "knowing where to shoot" is akin to cheating holds no water. Unless you think that having Hitzone Skins is the only way you could possibly "know where to shoot". If we were playing a first person shooter, it would be just as ridiculous as complaining about people knowing to try for headshots. At least in an FPS, skinning can make the enemy more visible, which can be an advantage. In WoT, the skins don't even do that.

Have you ever thought about the reverse? If you're frustrated by people shooting you in the modules, perhaps you should study where those modules are on your favorite tanks and then try to orient your weakspots away or use buildings to shield them from the tanks you're engaging. If more people knew the locations, it might make competition better overall.
Let's start with a definition of the word CHEAT as defined by the free online dictionary.

cheat (cht)
v. cheat·ed, cheat·ing, cheats
1. To deceive by trickery; swindle: cheated customers by overcharging them for purchases.
2. To deprive by trickery; defraud: cheated them of their land.
3. To mislead; fool: illusions that cheat the eye.
4. To elude; escape: cheat death.
1. To act dishonestly; practice fraud.
2. To violate rules deliberately, as in a game: was accused of cheating at cards.
3. Informal To be sexually unfaithful: cheat on a spouse.
4. Baseball To position oneself closer to a certain area than is normal or expected: The shortstop cheated toward second base.
1. An act of cheating; a fraud or swindle.
2. One who cheats; a swindler.
3. A computer application, password, or disallowed technique used to advance to a higher skill level in a computer video game.
4. Law Fraudulent acquisition of another's property.
5. Botany An annual European species of brome grass (Bromus secalinus) widely naturalized in temperate regions.

I think it's obvious to any reasonable person that only definition #2 in the second set applies in this case.

I've used hitbox skins in the past. And I will probably do so again in the very near future. That said, hitbox skins do not give anyone an unfair advantage because the skins are available to anyone. All you have to do is download and install them.

Wargaming has stated that mods are ok to use. Custom skins are but one type of mod. And hitbox skins are nothing more than a custom skin.

If you say this mod is cheating, then ALL mods are cheating. Except...we need to go back to the definition of cheat. Who makes the rules for WoT? Wargaming does, certainly none of us do. So if Wargaming says that mods are ok, how can we then DELIBERATELY violate that rule by using a hitbox skin mod?

I chuckled at the "cheat-mode gold ammo" comment. :-) That is no more a cheat than using any mod for WoT.
How about a game were we all have the same tanks. You go to it and you tank is there with no upgrade that others don't have. I want to play the game with MY skill not some kids mom's (money tank). You get skill by getting you butt shot off and going back for more till you get good. Mono on mono, get the crap out of the game.
Now, lets get some!
How about a game were we all have the same tanks

That was the Alpha. It sucked.

Next comment.
hit boxes seem as much of a cheat as knowing to shoot someone in the head in any other game. everything is located is basically the same spot on almost all tanks. its not rocket science.

The biggest reason to use these skins, even more so than for the sake of hitting enemies is this.

Knowing where MY weak spots are so I don't expose them haphazardly by mistake. It doesn't matter what range you're at, if you know your weak spots you can deny your enemy shots at them.

And really... It's my tank, I should know this. Course, I could look it up every time I get a new tank but really. Who has time for that? Ain't nobody got time for that.
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