There are games I play for the story. There are games I play for the mechanics. There are games I play for the simple audio visual experience.
Then there are games I play to break. This is one of those games.
The premise is simple: pull out the sword and you will become the next king. Doing so is easier said than done as you’ll have to click the sword, move your mouse upwards…and upwards….and upwards until you finally pull it out. Let go of your left mouse button, move off the sword or do anything out of the ordinary and the sword plummets unceremoniously back down to the ground, leaving you a peasant once again. Just to make things interesting though there’s two modes: the first being the offline one where the difficulty is fixed. The online one though will increase in difficulty over time, the sword getting longer and heavier as more kings are crowned.\
Before I dive into the meat of what I went through to break this thing it’s worth noting just how well crafted the actual game is. I know for many it’d be pretty easy to spin it up, give the sword a bit of a pull with the mouse, get frustrated and then close it again. However if you persist you’re treated to an ever growing song that builds as the sword goes longer. This too is a trick though as whilst it looks like a normal sword to begin with it doesn’t take long to realise that the sword is getting longer than it should, and then you start trying to guess where the actual end is. Is it at the treeline, above the trees? No perhaps even further? HOW FAR DO I HAVE TO PULL THIS SWORD IN ORDER TO BECOME THE RULER I WAS MEANT TO BE?! These questions can only be answered by doing one thing: pulling the sword out.
Of course such a simple game lends itself extremely well to attacks via simple automation tools like AutoIt and its brethren. The developer obviously knows about that though and there’s a few layers of anti-cheat protection built in to stop you from simply pegging the mouse to the top of the screen and pulling the sword out in seconds. There’s definitely some smarts in there to detect when the mouse moves directly upwards and likely some heuristics that look for “natural” motion that wobbles around a bit as it moves upwards. These checks appear to happen at the end of a mouse movement, I.E. when you’d likely be picking up the mouse to move it back down to the bottom of the mouse pad. I know this as my first naive attempts would move the sword upwards considerably, only to move back down to the starting position once the mouse stopped moving.
Some clever fellows worked out that if you combine a gamepad and mouse together in certain ways you could trick the game into thinking that a analog stick pegged upwards, coupled with some wiggles of your mouse, emulated the upwards movement enough to trick the game without having to constantly reposition the mouse. As of testing this no longer works, so I believe there’s likely been some updates to curtail that particular loop hole. Still though I believe any king that’s been crowned recently is likely a cheat, as the sword length and weight would just be far too difficult for a mere mortal to do without their hand cramping up.
My attempts to fully automate it though failed in the end, never being able to get the sword up more than a small amount before the cheat detection got me. I did however figure out that it has no detection around the mouse button being held down, so I could script that part to make the actual moving of the mouse easier. I’d say that this counts as a Tool Assisted win, which I’m happy with, but I can’t say I’m not somewhat disappointed in not being able to fully automate it.
I did have another brainwave around making a small mouse treadmill, something I could probably easily pull off with my 3D printer and an afternoon of effort. That’s an exercise for another day however.
So whilst this might only be a game in the mildest sense it is by far one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had recently. The alt-tabbing between my scripts and the game to try and figure out how to defeat the anti-cheat protection was a real joy and reminded me how much I miss making things that solved actual (if trivial) problems. Will I go back and try for King of Kings? Maybe, it seems like a simple enough challenge to create a realistic mouse movement in AutoIt or I could possibly use one of those macro recording programs to simply capture and replay my own movements. Either way, it’s a challenge that’s there if I ever want it but for now I’m happy being the king that I want to be.
The one who pulls out the sword will be crowned king is available for free on PC right now. Total play time was 82 minutes in game, much more out of it, and 50% of the achievements unlocked.