A common accusation that appears on the wiki is that - "so and so's park is hacked!" and "you're a cheater!", but far too often people accuse others of this simple on the basis of them being better off/luckier than they are. With this blog I intend to help people understand a bit better about how to identify hacked parks hopefully reducing the amount of false accusations.
The following is a list of things which people sometimes think are the result of hacking but which can simply be the result of playing normally and/or making a few in-app purchases:
- Having hundreds of gems - With saving the gems earnt from the colosseum, friends, the new Gemstone dragons and in-app purchases, having hundreds of gems (even over a thousand) is easily achievable without hacking especially if you have been playing for a long time.
- Having any amount of coins/treats - Unlike gems coins/treats are unlimited and with enough time and effort anyone can manage to save up an insane amount of them.
- Having the EBI, EBC and/or EBS - Just like it is possible to have hundreds of gems without hacking it is also possible to have saved them up and used them (possibly together with in-app purchases) to buy the EBI, EBC and/or EBS. In particular the EBI is very affordable and can be saved up for in less than a month at the minimal rate of 5 a day (2 from a silver trophy and 3 from gifts from friends).
- Having golden shrines - Having one gold shrine (or even all them) is not an indication of a hacked account, if you put enough effort in over a long enough period of time getting the gold shrines is very achievable (for example i've played since November and I have four golden shrines and I'm well on the way to level up the other four).
- Having a few level 20 dragons - While difficult it is also possible to have managed to raise a number of dragons to level 20 without resorting to hacking.
- Having a large number of a special dragon - While hacked accounts could easily buy as many of the limited/rare dragons as they want to that doesn't mean that anyone with a lot of a particular limited/rare dragon has hacked. Anyone who is lucky enough to breed 2 copies of a limited/rare dragon can use them to breed as many more as they want. Even with the new Gemstone dragons which can't be bred together it is still possible for someone to have been lucky enough to breed a number of them (even getting 12 or more is possible).
- Having a game center score/park value in the billions - Like level 20 dragons and golden shrines having a park value in the billions is something achievable through long time play and hard work not necessarily from hacking. My park value for instance is over 5 billion and I am no where near as "hard core" a player as others out there.
Might Be Hacking
The following are things that while possible to have achieved legitimately are so extremely difficult that as often as not they will be the result of hacking:
- Having all the dragons at level 20 - While it is possible to have golden shrines and a few level 20 dragons, the effort/coins/treats involved in raising a single dragon to level 20 is about 2/3 of raising an entire shrine to gold and as such having a park with 50+ level 20 dragons is very unlikely without hacking. NOTE: it is only borderline impossible, a very small number of people have already reached this level and with another half year or so there will be a fair few people.
NOTE: These things should not be treated as a flat out indication of hacking, however they can together with other indications show that someone has a hacked park.
The following is a list of things which almost always do indicate a hacked account:
- Having tens of thousands of gems - While having hundreds of gems or even a number in the thousands is achievable just from in game savings/in app purchases having tens or hundreds of thousands is not, it represents either people spending thousands of real world money (highly unlikely) or hacking.
- Having a game center score/park value in the trillions - While having a park score in the billions and even tens or hundreds of billions is achievable by long term play and a lot of effort at a certain point the level becomes impossible without having a hacked account which unfortunately means that the top scores on game center are all the result of hacking (and some of them are proud of it with names implying hacking).
- Having a game center score/park value that jumps massively overnight - By far the most obvious indication of someone hacking is when someones park value jumps massively. Accumulating park value is a slow process and huge jumps are a sure indication of a hacked account. For instance I had a friend (now defriended) who was on level 23 and in the midranks of my game center friend score rankings, who overnight jumped to a much much higher ranking at the top of the list obviously the result of cheating(when I checked his park the hundreds of thousands of gems were another dead giveaway).
Impossible to tell
While most people who hack their account can't help but go overboard and give themselves masses of gems and upgrade/level up everything they can, some people do decide to hack and only get the exact amount for what they want. For instance the exact amount of gems to buy a soon expiring limited dragon or to upgrade the EBI to EBS or NBC to EBC. I don't support these people's choice anymore than that of other cheaters, they are still in the wrong however they are also unfortunately nearly impossible to identify as having hacked accounts.
A lot of the time when people are talking about hacking/cheating they call it jailbreaking. However they are not always the same thing, jailbreaking (at least in the US) is actually legal (although Apple has stated that it does invalidate the warranty) and is often done for legitimate reasons like changing an iPhone's carrier or increasing the security protection on a device. Hacking in relation to DragonVale is when people use jailbroken devices and certain programs to alter their DragonVale accounts information against the wishes of Backflip Studios.
What to do about it
Unfortunately while hacking is moral wrong and damaging to Backflip's profits it is legally difficult to deal with and as such report potentially hacked accounts to Backflip is of little benefit to anyone. Backflip also only have a limited number of staff and as opposed to fighting a never ending potentially losing battle against hacking I for one would much rather they put their efforts into continuing to support and update DragonVale. The strategy that I use/advocate is to simply unfriend anyone who has obviously hacked their park, that way I don't receive gems/party hat coins from someone who has cheated and I send a message of quiet disapproval to them. After all hacking your account gets rid of the challenge and fun of DragonVale making showing of their park one of the only things they have left and if all their friends abandon them then their effort has gone to waste.
I hope that this helps some people better understand how to identify a hacked park and that there are less false accusations made against people who may have simply worked hard over a long period of time and/or been lucky in breeding. If anyone has any comments, questions, suggestions etc. please feel free to post them here. A related issue is that of scams, you can read about that on my Scam Spotting blog.
23:46, May 28, 2012 (UTC)
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