Let's Talk about Mods in Competitive Games

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

  1. aevs

    aevs Post Master General

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    Comparing a mod that improves the UI to cheats, even just as 'being the same class', is unreasonable. The cheats are exploits that circumvent the intended rules of the game. There are no rules in PA, explicit or implied, that limit your camera/view controls. As I've said before, and as I'm sure we can all agree, being able to display the map more effectively is one of the devs' intentions (PiP).

    It's the difference between equipment and cheating in physical sport. If you decide to be competitive in short track speed skating for instance (an example I'll use because I'm familiar with it), there are a lot of details (comparable to mods) outside of technique, strength and tactics you need to be aware of. That includes custom fit skates and different manufacturers, the hardness of steel in different blades, blade length, offset, rocker and bend (and how to measure and change the later two), the proper tools and techniques for sharpening (which the athlete generally does by hand), etc.

    These are all within the confines of the rules, and most are practically essential for competing, especially at high levels. It's also custom for each skater, and even small adjustments can have a significant impact on performance.

    Now, I'm not saying this is the case for all sports. In many sports there's little room for improvement when it comes to equipment, either because the rules are very specific about what the equipment is, or because the nature of the sport doesn't really give any opportunity to improve it. But in the case of PA, UI mods are equipment, and whether you consider a mod to be unfairly advantageous or not is arbitrary (unless you believe it abuses an exploit in the game or API, and are able to articulate exactly what that exploit is). Banning UI mods on a case-by-base basis out of judgement for how 'advantageous' they may be is not reasonable.
    cola_colin, Elate and philoscience like this.
  2. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Free Energy mod is something @cola_colin cooked up. Essentially what it does is manage your energy economy better for you, by doing something I think many *assume* the game would anyway.

    It all related to Uber's rather strange take on how energy works.

    In Vanilla PA (and Titans), fabbers all consume a fixed amount of energy no matter what they're doing. What you may not know, is that when they're waiting due to a metal stall (so they aren't actually building), the *still consume the full amount of energy regardless*. This is wasted energy doing nothing useful at all.

    Colin's mod basically detects when there is a metal stall, and *puts the hold energy command on* for fabbers, until the metal stall has ended. This results in energy building back up when metal stalling, resulting in the ability to do more stuff with fewer energy plants.

    note that if you manage your eco perfectly (specifically not ever stalling metal), then this mod does nothing at all, however most opening builds are prone to metal stall at some point or other.
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  3. squishypon3

    squishypon3 Post Master General

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    So does it actually make the Fabbers use less energy when in a metal stall like in SC2 or simply make your Fabbers stop working automatically until the metal returns- like in TA?
  4. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    The latter- be clear it doesn't *change the underlying rules* of fabbers use 'x energy per second'. What it does is pause them when they can't do anything useful.

    What people don't like, is that while you could manage your economy like that manually (I regularly use the no power option to pause a factory for example), this mod can manage multiple fabbers and factories simultaneously (or pretty much) with an APM far higher than a human could.

    A player without the mod wouldn't be able to switch the power states of all construction units multiple times a second to get optimal power / metal usage like the mod.

    The mod itself is only automating existing tools so I'd hardly call it an exploit, although as Cola points out it does highlight an issue with how PA manages energy. I personally would say this is probably something that shouldn't be allowed in ranked games as it's a form of automated active management rather than a simple setting or representing existing information in a different way.
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  5. elodea

    elodea Post Master General

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    No, that's not what is being said.
    ------
    Because we think it's unethical to use them when those mods that give significant advantage are not implemented into the vanilla base. You cannot ensure that 100% of players will have the same level of tools and functionality as everyone else when they click that 1v1 ranked button.

    Which is exactly what the rhetorical questions are trying to get people to come to understand, which is the contradiction in their thinking. If they think the mod does not provide alot of utility, then why should they care so much about whether it was disallowed or frowned upon? On the other hand if they do think it provide alot of utility over the base game, then why is it ok to use it when there are no controls to make sure you do not get matched up against players who arn't using these same mods? Because when those matchup's occur, there is clearly an unfair advantage.

    So then you should have no problem with other players in this thread saying they do see a problem with players having uber map matching against players who do not.

    Basically, when you are negative metal, your fabricator consume less than 100% metal, but still consume 100% energy. Free energy mod pulses your metal consumption units on and off to ensure that metal demand is always equal to metal spent such that no more extra energy than necessary is consumed. This can result in very big energy gains over a human controlled economy.
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  6. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    So I still can't get from you *how* you expect to police this. It's not reasonable to ban all UI mods in ranked in case someone might user Ubermap whilst another player doesn't.
  7. aevs

    aevs Post Master General

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    This argument applies equally to all mods, including things like hotbuild2. I don't think most people consider hotbuild2 an unfair advantage. I also suspect many people would care if it were banned.

    This is the problem with arguments that just look at a mod superficially; there is no metric that decides what is and is not fair unless you go full reductionist and point out the specific exploits relating to either the API or the game mechanics, and ban anything that uses them. Either that, or ban everything.
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  8. elodea

    elodea Post Master General

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    I think i've already answered your question and this is just going around in circles. Just because there is no concrete solution currently does not mean there is no problem. And if you never acknowledge the problem to begin with, you will never get a solution developed and implemented.

    If you still don't think i answered it or don't want to accept my answer as addressing your question, then I'm really not sure what else i can do about that tbh...
    igncom1 likes this.
  9. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Exactly, and the problem is, given Uber have limited funds- if we force the issue the latter is the most likely outcome (hopefully just for ranked games).

    At the end of the day, I get the concept that these are unethical (and for the record I don't use any of the 'unethical' mods myself), however unless there is a specific method to police or prevent it players will use it. That makes the whole argument kind of pointless, unless we intend to force some kind of 'solution' on the issue which is a path I think won't wind up benefiting anyone in the long run.
  10. Schemya

    Schemya New Member

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    Jables didn't say anything about copyright, did he ? I don't think that's the biggest issue. If you cannot afford to go to trial (and even if you can), it's almost always cheaper to settle for a compensation anyway. It probably wouldn't be a lot of money. And that's in the unlikely case it'd go that far.
    Now, they'd probably be found guilty of at least severe negligence, if a mod on their unmoderated mod manager were to delete files on their clients computers, stole their passwords, transform them into botnets, etc. That would definitely cost them a lot of money. You only need one very angry victim.
    cdrkf likes this.
  11. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    You've just made my point- as I've said over and over, your argument is leading directly to 'banning mods on the ladder'. That is the *only* viable solution anyone has been able to put forward so far. That is going to harm PA I can tell you that much.

    I agree, some of these mods are questionable, so we need to find a way to deal with these issues from the community side *NOT* by banning all mods on the ladder. That will harm the ladder, it will reduce usage of mods as a whole (killing PA Chat and so on) and Uber aren't going to be able to implement all the stuff we'd like. Please I BEG YOU don't kill PA for me :(
  12. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Yeah I must admit copyright was the first issue that came to mind (many players would like a TA based mod for example). It's true, there are lots of possible problems arising from mods.
  13. elodea

    elodea Post Master General

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    Yes indeed it does apply equally.

    The utility of hotbuild 2 is pressing 1 less button to queue an action, which is pretty insignificant as evidenced by no-one having ever brought up an issue with this mod causing alot of potential unfair advantage. It does not create an entire new functionality as does uber map.

    Does anyone actually care about the utility provided by hotbuild 2 against players who don't use hotbuild 2 though? No i don't think so.
    I'm not trying to ban all mods on ladder. Let me tell you that i will legit be the most angry person on forums if the hello kitty commander icons and the heart rainbow effects are banned.

    Maybe there is no solution except ban all mods, but i don't think this is the case. Most likely all that needs to happen is clarification by uber of what is allowed and what is not on the 1v1 ranked ladder, while fixing bugs with energy consumption and implementing a true minimap into the game.

    I get that they created alot of new api's and ui modding is very open, but at the same time i would not be certain they did this with alot of consideration of how it would affect fair play on the ladder.
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  14. tatsujb

    tatsujb Post Master General

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    I REALLY think there is no problem thus far.
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  15. aevs

    aevs Post Master General

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    I know, that's my point. It's not considered an unfair advantage, but people would still be mad if you removed it, ergo, the argument
    is unreasonable. Here, you were saying that if someone cares about a mod, it must be because it provides alot of utility. The hello kitty commander mod, as you've said, shows this is false. I was just pointing out that this line of reasoning can't be used to decide what is and what is not allowed (which is why I still say the only way to do so is by defining specific exploits, and not by banning mods on a case by case basis).
  16. maxcomander

    maxcomander Active Member

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    As long as I use pamm. :)
  17. tatsujb

    tatsujb Post Master General

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    And you'd be a fool not to, it's a damn good app and I can say as much for almost all the mods hosted on it.

    (and Uber seems to think so as well since the admittance rate of mods into vanilla is sky-high. you're already playing with mods for all I care.)
  18. maxcomander

    maxcomander Active Member

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    Just wondering if modders could limit where there mods could be used, Maybe if uber put something in the code so a mod could tell if the game was "ranked" and switch itself off?

    If that was possible then the community could decide what mod's are suitable for "ranked" just an idea?
  19. maxcomander

    maxcomander Active Member

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    I already downloaded it, you're right I think some of these mods will be very helpful to me.
  20. cola_colin

    cola_colin Moderator Alumni

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    Yes. And I am sure we will see mods that give you a significant advantage in other scenarios.
    I however still don't agree it is unfair. Both players have the access to pamm. Just because a player does not know pamm exists does not make it unfair. They can learn about it. Not knowing about helpful stuff generally is a disadvantages. But it is not unfair.

    I totally say you: Yes it is fair if player A has a full set of mods for minimaps, line commands, automatic energy management, automatic bomber targetting, whatever else and the other has none. As long as the player with no mods at all has the chance to install those mods as well once they learn about them. It's part of the game. You learn a lot of stuff that makes you a better player. This includes how to best use the UI, which includes correct usage of mods. @aevs comparison to equipment is a very good one. Mods are equipment and you should think about how to use that best.

    There are two potential issue that I agree on:

    - Mods that abuse bad game mechanics are "meh". Using them imho is fair game, as long as they are available to everyone and do not "break" the game. But obviously it would be great if the game had no such abuseable game mechanics. PA is not Starcraft. PA is not about who can micro some unit the best or other things computers can do really good.

    - Mods that "break" the game flat out. "I WIN" buttons or maphacks. No go. Those ought to be prevented through the client server concept of PA. This is because these mods are not equipment to play the game in the best way possible. If you compare it with real world sports then this is not a normal equipment you use, but rather it is a knife you use to stab your opponent directly. It removes the game altogether. None of the UI mods we have are even close to that and I don't think we'll see any such mods any time soon. I know a lot about what mods in PA can do or cannot do and I am really not concerned we will see any super AIs playing for us any time soon. We may see a few units doing better targetting then before or a few units trying to kite a bit, but that's about it. Nothing that imho will break the game. Not even close to it.

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