Grapeshot Games, an offshoot of Ark developer Studio Wildcard, has been forced to takes its pirate MMO Atlas offline for a second time in less than a week, following yet more shenanigans from cheaters - who this time spawned in drakes and hijacked official in-game server messages.
Late last week, Grapeshot elected to shut down its Atlas servers and instigate a rollback of more than five hours after cheaters, believed to belong to player group Black Butterfly, caused havoc by spawning the likes of tanks, giant whales, and airplanes into the pirate game. The studio later claimed the incident was a result of an admin's Steam account being "compromised", and that it had "taken the appropriate steps to ensure this does not happen again."
Unfortunately, while Atlas' downtime and server rollback initially appeared to resolve cheating issues, it wasn't long before more antics ensued.
As documented in a thread on the official Atlas subreddit, a second wave of illicit activity saw unscrupulous players seemingly using cheats to spawn drakes and giant whales (a few of which were spotted floating forlornly through the air) into the game. Additionally, cheaters managed to seize control of the server's status message, encouraging players to "Subscribe to Pewdiepie" before announcing "Black Butterfly strikes again".
All these events were captured during a livestream by Atlas clan (or Company, in game parlance) StreamerHouse. Grapeshot reportedly responded quickly once notified, taking its official network offline for "emergency maintenance" in order to investigate the issue and roll back North American PvP server world states by around three hours.
In an official statement posted to the Atlas website, assistant community manager Dollie blamed the second wave of cheats on a "technical exploit". The studio insisted that, unlike last week's events, "no administrator accounts were compromised in this situation".
It also offered assurances that it has now "protected against" the new technical exploit, and that "multiple accounts have been banned in relation to this". Additionally, the developer attempted to quell speculation as to the identity of those responsible, claiming that "the evidence and our extensive logging indicates that this group does not have any specific ties to any one company, but are instead targeting streamers and large or well-known companies."
"We will continue our investigation and will take action on all involved accounts and companies when we learn of their involvement immediately," Grapeshot concluded.