The public face of Minecraft is the cheerful and cheerful one. This is where we coo with people who recreate the world of the Lord of the Rings or admire the amazing visual tricks that can be drawn with a little ingenuity. But there’s the lesser-known (though often no less popular) side, where things get a little darker.
One of the most famous "anarchist" servers in existence is 2B2T, a long-running, unrestricted server that has not been re-established since 2010. The name means "2 Builders 2 Tools" and is designed to be inhospitable. nasty, and has sometimes been named the "worst" Minecraft server in existence. Naturally, its players would disagree, and from another perspective, 2B2T is an example of Minecraft's enormous appeal and its ability to turn players into creators: it's a place with a history. real, which is written and defines the landscape. The community around 2B2T and how it has developed over the years is why it was presented at the 2019 Video Games: Design / Game / Interruption exhibition at the V&A Museum in London.
This story begins even earlier. In 2018, a bunch of wells they never found exploded a piece of Minecraft server software called Paper (thanks, WindowsCentral). This exploit made the server believe that a player was clicking on each block on the map: it instantly tried to load countless block representations and blocked the server. It's the kind of catastrophic mistake that, with programs like this, can be fixed quickly as soon as it's used and noticed.
And “quickly” was the problem.
One of the programmers who worked at NoCom, although only since 2020, is Leijurv, who wrote a long and detailed publication explaining exactly what the group did after that moment and why it worked.
The beginning of the post points people to this FitMC youtube video, which the authors helped prepare and provides a more general overview.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elqAh3GWRpA (/ embed)
The reason NoCom flew under the radar for so long, in Leijurv's words, "is that there is no real 'exploitation' or 'back door' in the sense one might think. In other words, the server does not "misbehave" or do anything suspicious. It is a totally planned and anticipated behavior, the code does nothing cunning or surreptitious, it is actually perfectly simple. "
PaperTM, the developer of Paper, "fixed" the original exploit, which was exactly what hackers expected behind what would become known as NoCom. A specific patch from PaperTM allowed hackers to click on blogs and inform them of content, which is not unusual behavior for Minecraft. The unusual behavior is to apply this logic far beyond where the "player" really is: that is, to be able to "click" on a block anywhere in this absolutely huge landscape and know what it is all about.
“Therefore, this is a known and desirable behavior on the part of 2b2t,” Leijurv writes. "It's just that few people thought of intentionally going out of the rendering distance to extract information. The finding is that you can click absolutely any block on the site, even a million blocks away, and find out if it's currently this is a loaded snippet, in case the server responds to you or stays silent.
Using common sense, the developers of Paper intended this patch to respond to the player only if your player loaded the chunks, as that would make logical sense (these are all blocks you could reason by digging in good faith). The problem is, the way the code is written, the server will respond if any player loads the snippet, which is clearly an unwanted side effect. "
Why does this matter? Why do you think. Once this exploit became available, the people behind NoCom began checking to see if specific pieces of the map were loaded or unloaded. The first indicated the presence of other players, so these locations were recorded, creating a base master document and other locations to hit. There is some poetry in this, but for the past three years, the exploitation of NoCom has been used to sadden players playing on a server in distress.
Here’s a 2B2T world heat map showing where players and groups are concentrated. And this is where the hack gets evil.
When it was first discovered, the farm had to be used manually. And obviously, clicking on blocks non-stop to find out where is not the most efficient method of thieves. So the NoCom group started automating it, introducing robots to the server in a lathe system so that it was always online: and these robots were observing the main routes in the world.
When one of these robots detected a player, he followed his movements with the program and especially noticed the time they spent in certain areas.
Here is an "explanation of kindergarten" by Leijurv about what the boat called Elon_Musk would do.
"They scan the lower highways (really, they hit a block for every 9 bits, expanding outward on each road and diagonally, like a radar). When we get a hit, we find a player traveling. Maybe traveling to a base ?
"So … let's keep up with them. We came up with a system, which uses a Monte Carlo particle filter to simulate and track movement, which uses about 2 controls per second to keep up with a player while travels at an arbitrary speed.Elytra, boat, speed of the entity, speed, walk, anything.Even God pig mode! Even spectator mode! All we care about is whether to load pieces , this is what we can see.
"Basically, we built a machine that plays this battleship game against 2b2t, very well, using all the one hundred checks per second we get and using it to track the battleships as they move around the board.
“And when an battleship disappears from the bottom board, we look at the board of the world and move on (the robots coordinate with each other, of course).
"That way, we follow people to their bases, keeping them up to date while loading bits. From our observation posts we can check bits all over the map, at any distance."
By the end, NoCom’s crew had amassed 1.7 terabytes and 13.5 billion rows of data on the 2B2T world. Data that would be used mainly as follows: "print the bases with more chests, go with them, steal all the items".
NoCom’s activity began to culminate in 2020, as hackers ’knowledge of the gaming world became more complete and the temptations were simply irresistible. Countless bases were destroyed, endless valuables were looted and the community panicked as many refused to sign up.
Members of the 2B2T community had noticed something funny over the years, but the group behind NoCom had also organized a disinformation campaign between forums and Discord groups ("Memes to cover up exploitation and others"), rejecting those with concerns as paranoid.
As NoCom’s momentum was created and its presence on the server became impossible to hide, the crew behind it knew the end was near. He carried out a furious assassination during the months of June and July, trying to eliminate until the last drop of the data he had, before finally the server administrator managed to correct the exploitation by limiting the number of packets the accounts could send per server tick.
NoCom may be gone, but its legacy will be long above 2B2T. All of this data is still available, and it’s still accurate until players and groups move their bases – it’s not exactly a small business on this scale. Many fantastic buildings are now just hostages of fortune. 2B2T still exists, but this is probably the most shocking event in its history.