Let's Talk about Mods in Competitive Games

Discussion in 'PA: TITANS: General Discussion' started by stuart98, August 29, 2015.

  1. stuart98

    stuart98 Post Master General

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    Forked from the Clash of the Titans thread.

    The topic came up that @cola_colin's UberMap mod apparently gave an unfair advantage in competitve play and calls came out to ban the mod and several others. I'll first go over the advantages provided by the mods, and then go over the matter of banning any mods at all.

    The UberMap mod lets you see the entire planet at once. Now, this can be a nice advantage I suppose, but is it really that massive? There's already pip in the vanilla game and UberMap does little other than act as an extension of PIP.

    Landmines aren't the most useful feature in any case, the landmine line build mod makes them somewhat less frustrating to use but doesn't make them useful.

    Autofactory is a mod that breaks any of your factories that you want to have an individualized build queue for or that you want to infinite build a certain unit composition. It is the opposite of viable in a competitive game.

    Free energy is a mod that does the micromanagement that the game is encouraging you to do. Even Blizzard removed the need to endlessly micro queens to spawn larva in LotV, this is a broken mechanic and the mod does nothing but make it a bit less broken. Everyone can and should be using this mod because it actually improves the game. If you lose the game because your opponent's fabbers weren't being stupid and yours were, that's a problem with game mechanics, not with mods that fix them.

    Auto-repeat is a mod that can hurt you massively in the early game. As someone who depends on getting good unit build queues in my factory early game, ctrl inserting units into an infinite build queue ends up being annoying as the units that I want build first end up in the back. Auto-repeat prevents you from changing to a non-infinite build. It's a mod that removes choice.

    Planetary Annihilation is about the UI empowering you, not about the UI limiting you like SC2's. We as a community decided two years ago that anything goes, and we've stuck with this since then. If a mod is giving you an advantage, then it's the mechanics behind that mod that need looking at, not the mod.

    Even if we do end up banning some mod, let's say Colin's mod, all we've done is open up a pandora's box of precedents. Where does it end? @rivii brought up More Pew Pew, a mod that gives different projectiles a more distinguishing and pretty look. It's a graphical enhancement mod. Where does it end? Are we just going to straight up ban all mods?

    How is this even enforced? There is no way to view what mods a player is using. We're stuck with mods in competitive play and there's no way around it.
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  2. rivii

    rivii Well-Known Member

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    you should read my post more clearly. More Pew Pew is in a `grey zone` It enhances play due to faster recognition of unit types even out side of FoV. Although It still is a pretty pretty mod and there are MANY arguments for why it iss'nt an issue. Thats why it is in a Grey Zone.
  3. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    I agree with @stuart98, I think we have to keep in mind that PA has quite a small (albeit very passionate) esports community.

    We are talking small scale events here with small sums of money involved- and the rules we've been working under are appropriate in my opinion to the level we are at.

    I mean, my PC is different to another players, is that unfair? My internet connection might be faster (or slower) than another players, what about that? You can never eliminate every variable.

    With respect to mods my position is this, @elodea (who mentioned the mod in the first instance) is well known as one of the top players. I'm an upper plat / lower Uber reasonable player but I'm not in the same league as elodea when he's playing on form. Now, if he played vanilla (no mods), is there a set of ui mods that would allow me to consistently beat him? If yes then maybe we have a problem, however I'm fairly certain that his more in depth knowledge of the game mechanics, superior apm and experience in competitive games gives him more of an edge than I'd get from a few ui tweaks.

    Edit: Another point on the map mod in particular: Remember this mod only represents *information already made available to you* in another format. In the previous thread it was refereed to as 'cheating'- if it revealed units and info that you shouldn't have then I'd tend to agree. However, all it shows are unit positions that you have *radar coverage of* anyway. On a single planet (which is the most often used option for 1 v 1 games) you can achieve the same goal using the PIP set of show the opposite side of the map. Other mods like auto repeat and such are preferences, as @stuart98 says these can actually be pretty sub-optimal for most players.
    Last edited: August 29, 2015
  4. MrTBSC

    MrTBSC Post Master General

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    instead of line or cyclebuilds how bout friggin squarebuilds ... that would like make the most sense ... no?
    Last edited: August 29, 2015
  5. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    OMG, squarebuild mod for mines? Totally OP- banned!
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  6. Abaddon1

    Abaddon1 Active Member

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    Really it seems like one of those things that can't be controlled. As you said, any banned mods can't really be enforced. I'd just argue to make sure that everyone knows the mods out there, or a good collection of helpful mods and how to install/use them. Level the playing field through ease of access.
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  7. MrTBSC

    MrTBSC Post Master General

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    how bout a simple principle ..don't play with mods in a tourney ... at all ...
    Last edited: August 29, 2015
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  8. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Except they require some mods to allow the administration *of the tourney*.

    Specifically Exodus request PA:Stats. This is why I say people *have to know about mods* to even enter :p
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  9. epicblaster117

    epicblaster117 Active Member

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    I agree with Stuart, the community had the consensus that when it came to mods honestly anything goes which is totally fine. Honestly some people allude mods to a aimbot in a FPS when this is inherently not true. Automation mods even if you had the game literally play itself, you could honestly only be as good as a Absurd AI, which to most is actually rather easy and if mods could make you so much better than pro players without having to do anything, we'd probably have a Skirmish Ai that could the same but the point is that we don't. There's really nothing that can inherently break the skill needed to play competitively with mods other than getting rid of micro, which to me, getting rid of micro is totally fine.
  10. MrTBSC

    MrTBSC Post Master General

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    yea i was talking about stuff like hotbuild and autorepeat that could potentionaly give a player a greater advantage than the player without ..
  11. temeter

    temeter Well-Known Member

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    Can't these addons just check for other stuff? Especially mods distributed over PAMM should be easy to log, provided they wanted. Might be easy to circumvent, but it would be a base to create rules from.

    E.g. enhanced with a list for allowed or (for balance) recommended mods, depending on the organizer.
  12. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    I just don't think it's needed right now. I guess it's possible that someone will release a (UI) mod so brilliant that it requires remedial action (e.g. something that auto kites the new grenadiers in a way that allows them to retreat and still fire, or something like that which would take so much micro as to be impossible without), however I haven't seen anyone create anything like that really.

    As @epicblaster117 says, if anything why don't we just get a sticky for 'recommended for tournaments' ui mods and let people know about what might help them.

    I mean it's possible that someone could create a UI mod so powerful that it becomes a game changer, however we haven't seen anything like that yet. Server mods are another matter and that's why they're a no go.
    stuart98 likes this.
  13. mered4

    mered4 Post Master General

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    The question we should be asking is if the mod gives you a clear and QUANTIFIABLE advantage over the enemy, assuming the enemy does not have any mods.

    Colts minimap mod, for example, is unfair under this definition, because someone without mods cannot see the entire planet at the same time like an Uber map user can. Pip or no pip. You may say the reverse planet setting on pip counters that, but you have to remember the one can't see a small strip of the planet at all times due to physics.

    I shouldn't say small - it varies from planet to planet depending on size and height range and so on.

    However, hotbuild would be allowed because you can do the same thing hotbuild does without mods... It's just annoying to set up and (imho) harder to learn.

    The free energy mod is actually also unfair - someone with it has a massive advantage. Especially late game. I agree the mechanics behind it are dumb, but that's no reason to force everyone to use the mod.
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  14. MrTBSC

    MrTBSC Post Master General

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    i dare say mods shouldn't be in for the simple reason of potentianaly altering execution of a player compared to execution without ...
  15. cola_colin

    cola_colin Moderator Alumni

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    Now this exploded somehow.

    So let's add the view of the author of some of the worst offending mods.
    Let's first have a look at what some of the mods even do:

    The UberMap: Can provide a nice overview indeed. However just by installing it you wont be any better at all. Rusty as I am I still lose most games vs elodea or other good players. Why? In theory the mod can provide a considerable advantage.
    In reality it isn't easy to use. If you ever tried to practice "look at the minimap as much as you can" in other RTS you'll know what I am talking about. You need to put skill into using this.

    FreeEnergy: I am still not entirely sure if this is good or bad. I think if used right it gives you an advantage, but it may require you to alter your build orders to really get there. Additionally it currently can easily trick you into thinking your economy is "fine", even though it was just paused in the moment you looked at it. So it might screw you over. Not easy to use.

    Cover the line: I feel this is actually the most helpful mod in terms of being "easy to use" and getting something out of it very quickly. Using this I can pretty quickly split dox or form concaves. It's natural to use and requires not much practices. Might be the most helpful one out of the box without a lot of extra practice.

    Now what do I think about this "fair playing field"?
    This is twofold. First of most of the UI mods dont magically make you better. the minimaps are _not_ easy to use correctly. FreeEnergy at least as of now can make think completely misjudge your economy and screw over badly.
    What these mods probably do is increase the skill cap. If you master them you'll be better than somebody without them very likely, but you will need to practice a lot to actually use them.
    Is this bad? Imho not. This is there the second part of this issue comes in: The responsibility of a good player is to use the best UI available. All these UI mods in question are freely available. If you want to be the best part of the game is to know which mods really help you and to use them and to practice to use them correctly. The tools are all public and easy to get.
    It's an even playing field: Everyone has access to all these things.
    You might say: "Not everyone knows about them". Yes indeed. But not everyone knows about the best buildorders or the best strategy. Where is the difference? Knowledge is what makes you win or lose games for sure. Nothing new. The best build order btw is a lot more valuable than any UI mod I know of.

    Just like it is a generally good idea to get the best keyboard and mouse. Not the most expensive one, but the one that plays best for you. For example I use an extra mouse button for shift since many years. My left hand that way is free to do other stuff.
    Unfair advantage? No. Good decision made about my mouse.

    What does this do to the game? Well imho it does over long term increase the skill at which players play. Games will be more interesting to watch, as players will not fail on stuff that the UI can easily do for them. It will also make the game less frustrating to play, because playing with a weak UI is frustrating.

    Lastly technically PA was build for UI mods especially. There is no way to prevent their usage. Any attempt would be very easy to work around. Trying to do that would bring nothing good at all. PA is about a powerful UI after all and I am sure there will be more powerful UI mods coming up. The potential from the new APIs is great and largely unused so far.

    Imagine:
    - Auto ferry for transports
    - Automatic bomber splits, exactly to one pass as many AA units on the ground as possible.
    - Templates to quickly place stuff. Similar to the wall around pgen hack in hotbuild, but a lot better.
    - A better version of auto factory that also does stuff on fabbers.
    - Allow to more easily manage your factories. For example factory supports factory behavior from SupCom. Or a function that basically allows you to prepare specific orders for factories before they are even started on construction.
    - ??? Sure there is more possible, just a bunch of ideas...
    Last edited: August 29, 2015
  16. MrTBSC

    MrTBSC Post Master General

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    i stand by my statement .. no executionaltering mods ...
    either vanilla implementation or bust .. simply because there would be no percentage of possible alteration of play and execution .. every player would play with his real capabilities and ways of execution than he possibly would/could with mods ...
  17. cola_colin

    cola_colin Moderator Alumni

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    If you're looking for a game with that stance then seriously Starcraft 2 is your game.
    PA won't get like that anymore. It is what is and nothing will change it.
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  18. MrTBSC

    MrTBSC Post Master General

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    so basicaly what you are saying is that (and i hate to say it because it's rather cheesy ... and probably offending) pa players are without pride and principals ?...
  19. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Quite the opposite, PA players are more embracing of mods and the world of opportunities that lies within.
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  20. cola_colin

    cola_colin Moderator Alumni

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    Not at all.
    Why would you read that from what I say?
    My understanding is this:

    In the TA like RTS games the notion of "the UI should be as powerful as possible" is a leading idea.
    In Starcraft however players tend to "play vs the UI and the game" just as much as they play vs their actual opponent. Players try to fight with the same UI, so UI modifications are a no go. It's even easy to find people who say my "shift on mouse" is a cheat in that games community.

    It's two different concepts. Both are fun. Trying to push PA into Starcraft region however won't work at all.
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