For as long as there has been any form of competition, individuals or groups have spent an almost equal amount of time looking for ways to cheat the system.
In the real world, one could Google for hours all of the performance enhancing drugs in sports cases that have come to light in recent years, for starters alone. Boxers who have taken dives in fights, using technology to spy on another team's gameplan, taking a subway to finish a marathon and so much more.
Then, bring that "I must win at all costs" mentality into the virtual world....
In July 2013, vk.com, the Russian equivalent to Facebook in the Western world, gave away 7-Day rental codes for the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Tensor Edition. With the forums now locked and my memory a little fuzzy on the details, I do believe that it was a player proposed event, that started the ball rolling and then got support from either the development team, EA or even both, for the prizes.
The rules (if you can make that picture out) were simple enough, take the Tensor rental, run the Lion's Challenge track, post your best times without using powerups or altering the car in any shape, from the single player race.
A randomly picked picture from that era. I don't have mine anywhere, anymore, but I will come back to that.
The event generated a lot of activity, both on the forums and inagme. Even I took part, which is where the problem started. After making a few runs, I think my best time was in the 2:13 to 2:16 range, not great, but it was an honest effort. I posted the screenshot (long since removed and deleted) then went over to my profile page at the old NFS-s.com site....
If you can read the above picture, it pretty much says it all. For the record, I never have used hacks, cheats or taken advantage of game exploits in Need for Speed World. Seriously, what would be the point? For some false, self esteem boost? To get attention from the community for something I am not? If I fail at something honestly, I own the fail and either improve or move on to something else, period.
Nevertheless, I started the discussion with the above statement, which opened up a huge can of worms. Some replies mere were the automatic and thoughtless cheater/hacker/whiner/etc drivel from those who didn't take the time to read the words and only let the numbers tell the story. Others, were somewhat sympathetic to what I had to say, even a few claiming they were experiencing the same thing.
The conversation went on for a few days, then it was closed with this final remark from a certain moderator who, for whatever reason, decided to end it on this note. The very fact they wrote that still stuns me, all these years later.
I tried to explain my situation to both the administrators at NFS-s.com (an interesting read here, of a similar situation http://forum.p-stats.com/threads/5773-I-request-dialogue-with-moderators ) and by sending messages to the development team, but got nowhere.
The other downside, I was the leader of a crew, a competitive team in Need for Speed World I named Rosewood Renegades. I had met some fantastic players and invited them to my slowly growing clan. Over a short period of time, these players had been working very hard on the racing skills, earning the credits needed to advance through the ingame economy and even spending some real world money on buying much better cars.
I was about to taint all of their hard work if I remained, so, I deleted my drivers and walked away. In a few keystrokes, I flushed a fair amount of real world money and a lot of personal time, down the toilet.
I vanished from the first server, known as Apex, immediately. I, however, kept racing casually on the second server, Chicane, but my heart wasn't really into it. That driver was deleted shortly there after.
Almost a year later, I went back to Need for Speed World, but kept a low profile on the Chicane server and sticking with only single player races. First, I still loved the game, but wanted to be more of a hermit then the interactive, community personality I was before. The last thing I want to do was draw attention to myself and have people label me, falsely, as a hacker, based on perceptions of what happened before. Second, those bots in single player wouldn't cause any cheating/hacking/other proxy issues like what happened in Multiplayer.
I didn't participate much on the forums either, but some of the stuff I was reading was making sense to me. Seems there could have been an ulterior motive to the Tensor Challenge. Between the soon-to-vanish posts on the main forums and the ongoing discussions on the NFS-s.com site, the great hacker roundup had a profound effect.
Quite a few players were banned from the game (only to come back under a new names, some continued to carry on with what they did before) but, the population had declined some. I know of a few players who were in the same position I was, were swept up and treated on equal terms as those who made the conscious effort to cheat their way through the game, who never went back.
In the end, everybody lost. After just 5 years in existence, Need for Speed World, along with the other free-to-play EA titles, were closed down. It didn't matter if you cheated your way to the top, or honed your skills honestly to be unbeatable, all of that is long gone. Less than a year after the game closed, the forums were finally locked, only the search results on Google and/or other search engines offer hints at the contents, now hidden from view.
For me, with the finding and installing of Need for Speed World Offline, I can continue on in peace. I have decided to go through the last recorded times from the final driver I created and set new records for myself. Unlike when the servers were online, I now capture both screenshots and videos, should somebody try to paint me as a cheater/hacker. I doubt this would have helped much back then, but those times are long since past.
Time for some new memories, with some happier reminders of days gone by, like smashing my old record on Lucky Towers of 3:38:478 set on 2014-04-08 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmanTSVt-vI