Let's Talk about Mods in Competitive Games

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

  1. cola_colin

    cola_colin Moderator Alumni

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    That's a productive concern. Question is: Can we make it better than it is atm?
  2. mot9001

    mot9001 Well-Known Member

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    With a little help from uber, maybe some promotion on the mainmenu about PAMM. Also maybe a notification before you ready up.
  3. Clopse

    Clopse Post Master General

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    Having read this entire thread the last hour ( thank god I was getting paid for it) I have came to the conclusion that UI mods are relatively kosher and automated mods are frowned upon.

    It's a fair view on how I stood prior to reading. Of course hot build, uber map and effect mods are an advantage. But as has been said hardware is also an advantage. Macro keys on my keyboard and extra buttons on my mouse I find are a huge advantage to me over somebody that don't use them.

    Same with people that use effects. In the vanilla game the unit cannon/ dox lobber and pelter seem to have the same effect. Takes me a second to realise what it is and there is a major difference of 10 dox landing in your base as to 10 scampers.

    Automation like auto factory is a huge help. I've often been busy playing with my air units and wasting metal while I have 5 factories idle. Free energy mod is not configured to my liking. If it's possible to pause everything that's using energy other than units producing energy then it's and advantage for me.

    As elodea mentions being able to click uber map anywhere is a bigger advantage than say seeing the difference between a pelter volley and a unit cannon missile.

    As is having a shift button on my mouse and macro keys better for me than auto factory would be.

    I've decided I'm going to use whatever I think will help me tackle the UI but steer clear of any automation mods.
    philoscience likes this.
  4. cola_colin

    cola_colin Moderator Alumni

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    You get that by putting pgen fabbers on priority.
  5. squishypon3

    squishypon3 Post Master General

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    Dox and Scampers are the same! :p
    stuart98 likes this.
  6. GoogleFrog

    GoogleFrog Active Member

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    Impressive thread (although it has become a bit circular). I agree with bits and pieces from many people so it is an interesting discussion.

    @elodea has a really good point about new ladder players. I can imagine many new players being annoyed when they discover that their ladder opponents had a much better UI. It could reach a point where playing without mods is a waste of time in terms of learning. You would need mods just to play and learn the 'real' game.

    Perhaps the question of new ladder players boils down to the expectations of a new PA player. Someone who buys PA should be able to expect to jump on the ladder and play the game. They won't be any good at it and may need guides to improve but they should at least be able to play the real game; the game that everyone else on the ladder is playing. If everyone else has powerful mods then they are not playing the same game. Players would have to make it online and find PAMM to enter real play. Also don't assume that finding mods is easy, the experiences in this thread are not representative because everyone here made it onto the forums.

    If all (well, most) new players knew that PA was a joint RTS/mod finding/programming experience then I guess the new player problem would be fine. The problem is fairness because players do not know that mods are a vital part of the game.


    Nobody has bought up system requirement creep (that I am aware of). There is a related argument, that hardware and powerful mods are equivalent, but it is a weak version of system requirement creep and I find it unconvincing. Any game designed as an eSport should have system requirements that put everyone on equal footing provided that they satisfy the requirements. This provides an limit to the advantage gained by shoveling money into hardware. Ideally the requirements should be reasonably low and affordable to ensure that most players are at this limit (or are at least able to reach it if they want to play seriously). This makes the game fair in terms of hardware. The same applies for things such as screen size. Latency is an issue but we're not going to be able to do much about that.

    System requirement creep is the fact that mods can drive up the system requirements for competitive play. Mods run slower than the game itself, hobby modders are less likely to optimize code and Uber cannot take them into account when they set system requirements. We already almost had an issue with UberMap. Imagine if the performance issues were harder to find and @cola_colin was both less awesome and had the hardware to not personally care about performance. The mod could still be freely available yet effectively limited to a portion of players. Should all the serious players upgrade their machines? What if another vital mod comes along and take another chunk of performance?

    If people accept automation mods then differences in latency will become more important. Automation mods fail much more spectacularly than humans at high latency because they tend to lack the anticipation power of a human. I don't know exactly how Free Energy works but if it toggles on/off every half second then I imagine latency could cause problems. Autoskirm, avoiding turrets, targeting improvements all depend a lot on low latency to work correctly. It is really hard for a quick-action mod to take latency into account and if the creator has low latency they are unlikely to put the work in to support everyone. Bandwidth could become an issue with all the order spamming.

    I people don't accept automation mods then how do they propose to police it? Server options to disable order-issuing API (could work?).


    Many of the issues raised in the thread seem to stem from people who do not want to play the same game yet both want to play PA. Some people think that PA should push back the boundaries of the UI and be a game about overseeing smart armies of units. Others think that PA should be more of a traditional FA style RTS with an importance on mircomangement etc... There is going to be no agreement when people fundamentally want different things. I think a major issue is that PA does not seem to know what it wants to be.

    My general take on the mod debate is that Uber should do something. @elodea's problem with new players would be solved if Uber integrated the generally acclaimed mods (eg UberMap). Particularly useful mods which would be bad to have by default could be highlighted somewhere fairly obvious so new players can find them. There might even be a mod whitelist depending on which level of UI improvement/automation is deemed appropriate. Integration would also solve system requirements creep. Integrated mods can be faster and curated to work well for everyone. Automation can be implemented serverside without bandwidth or latency issues. Ideally the set of integrated mods would have enough settings for everyone to be ok with being restricted to them for ladder and tournaments.


    Uber is a bit confusing regarding what sort of game PA is supposed to be. I would not rely on Uber to integrate mods because it's messy business and in the past they were against the the aims of some of the more popular ones. The energy mechanic that Free Energy circumvents is not a bug. There was a large thread about it years ago, it is intentional. There were also many minimap discussions. Perhaps it is best if the community decides and makes a coherent mod pack. Or at least have subsets of the communities make mod packs based on their personal preference for the type of game they want PA to be.
  7. devoh

    devoh Well-Known Member

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    I guess my though is a middle ground.. Have a pre-agreed upon approved mod list. Have a Tournament mod that checks to make sure you do not have any mods that are not on the list of approved mods. Make the approved mod list HIGHLY visible, so everyone knows about it and can practice with it. By banning all mods you run the risk of making the game not fun for people that are used to having their favorite mods. Some people play with gaming pads/controllers.. some people have a basic keyboard and mouse.. when you start banning mods where do you stop? slippery slope argument and all that
  8. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Let me give you an example from Spring why I think your wrong on the mods issue (although I will qualify this that there *are* mods that I agree can be a problem- I'm talking in broader terms).

    I've tried Zero K. I don't get on with it. I tend to stick with Balanced Annihilation (and as I own TA I'm quite at liberty to play it as I've paid for those assets already). I also don't get on with BA:Remake.

    One of the biggest reasons for this is because I cannot stand the 'enhanced UI' frameworks that Zero K and BA:R are totally dependent on (you cannot play either mod without last time I tried).

    Original BA still allows me to use the default Spring UI which I much prefer. It's very minimalist, gives me just enough info and lets me concentrate on the game.

    The beauty of Spring is that all the UI stuff can be modded to a specific users own wishes. I actually don't like most UI mods so *I get to turn them off* (at least in some mods). Other people can turn on all sorts of things if they wish- it's all good.

    I view PA as the same in this reguard.

    The base UI is good, clean and simple. Mods allow for users to clutter it up if they wish but it's optional. I actually prefer many of these tools as mods so I *don't have to be forced to have my screen space wasted by something I don't want*. Other players can do what they like.

    The argument of "disable mods and force Uber to do it" is poor. It removes choice, and that isn't the way to create a long term community.

    If it wasn't for modding in TA there would be no spring rts, or Zero K for that matter, so why try and strangle the mod support in PA, it was never a detriment to TA, quite the opposite.

    This whole argument stems from 'fear' that someone might be harmed somehow. Please show me the 'victim' of mods before we go and execute the 'culprit'.
  9. philoscience

    philoscience Post Master General

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    I've thought about it and come to the opinion that this thread has become largely pointless. Uber is not going to devote scarce resources to regulating or otherwise moderating the mod community. The competitive scene simply isn't big enough and there are no easy solutions. And we have no ability ourselves to regulate them. The best we could do is as a community ban certain mods or create a community modpack, and hope people listen. Some won't and we can't really do anything about it except maybe use some of the monitoring systems Mered propose. And there will always be false positives and false negatives for any possible detection system. In a nutshell this whole thing has become a tempest in a teapot.
    cdrkf likes this.
  10. devoh

    devoh Well-Known Member

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    I hesitate saying this, but I am not a huge fan of PAMM. I find it hard to find things.. HWne I start PAMM it shows me mods that are out of date or do not even exist anymore.

    I like the idea of a community mod pack as long as you can easily disable the mods you don't want to use.
    cdrkf likes this.
  11. maxcomander

    maxcomander Active Member

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    I guess first we would have to see whether enough of the community actually want's it, then ask uber whether they would consider it..

    The main point of the idea would be that the community does as much of the work as possible leaving uber to just check the final selection for any legal issue's or malware...

    I think this is good idea also, having everything in one package with a nice forum thread that people can easily link for newcomer's and those who struggle with forum searches.
    Last edited: September 1, 2015
  12. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Well said.

    I guess I'm just worried that if pushed hard enough, uber would do something... Disable all ui mods for the ladder.

    All these noble thoughts of integrating into the game, moderating them and so on won't happen....
  13. philoscience

    philoscience Post Master General

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    Is it even possible? And just looking at this thread, I think the community is way too divided for them to take this type of strong action.
    cdrkf likes this.
  14. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Thankfully :p
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  15. FrequentPilgrim

    FrequentPilgrim New Member

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    It sounds like we need to permanently have the top video on front page be a direct reference to PAMM and how to use it. The biggest concern currently is that players are on unequal footing. It appears that the best solution to this is to inform as many players as possible what PAMM is, the benefit they will derive from it, and how to go about using it.

    The next concern is that eventually the mods will go too far and have things like auto-kiting or issue orders directly to units. The easiest answer to this is to come up with some sort of system , whether that's voting, a decision by Uber, or something else, to remove mods from PAMM that cross the line. So far I don't think that Ubermap or Free Energy cross the line but they do come close. Ideally we want PAMM to be a mod whitelist with anything not included, and therefore not equally accessible to all players, being on the black list. Being able to catch someone using a non-PAMM mod then would be difficult, but at least we could generally agree if something was going outside the realm of good sportsmanship.

    The voting and blacklist/whitelist is hard to implement. Informing people about PAMM should be comparatively much easier. We should care about people ACTUALLY not being on equal footing instead of caring about the principle that people COULD not be on equal footing. Every player that gets informed about PAMM is one more player that is now on equal footing.
    maxcomander and stuart98 like this.
  16. MrTBSC

    MrTBSC Post Master General

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    my fear with the whole thing is the picture it gives of ..
    people saying that mods are required to be a good player may scare of players that have no interest in mods whatsoever but simply want to play competitively with what the basegame offers .. it is risking the competitive playerbase to not grow .. i don't think it is good to shove mods into players faces no matter if you don't mean any harm to them .. they may lose interest in playing competitevely ..
  17. cola_colin

    cola_colin Moderator Alumni

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    Counter argument: People might stop playing because the default UI lags some feature they want and keep playing thanks to a mod that provides it.
    As of now you also certainly can play with no mods at all and reach the very top imho.
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  18. dom314

    dom314 Post Master General

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    Yeap, this thread is mostly circles, but I do want to add just one more vertex :3.

    First thing to address I guess, is how to moderate the use of mods. I think that is actually really simple. Just go by the honour system. What is honourable? Don't use any mod which cuts down a big skill curve.

    Based on that criteria, automation mods are bad because where one player would have to learn to multi-task really well (and doing that will actually allow them to be on equal footing still), the other player just has to get used to using that mod. Now this is a problem because the only real discriminator in a match-up should be the player skill, not whether or not you have a certain mod.
    That criteria also puts things like the UberMap in a gray area. Why? Because good map awareness (even using the PIP), is a skill that takes a lot of time and effort to develop, and using UberMap cuts out a big chunk of that learning curve.

    So are we going to say it's the fault of the player that chooses not to use a particular mod? What if their choice is based on the notion that there is a possibility that their opponent is not using the mod and therefore not on equal footing? Are they to be punished for that choice? I don't think that is right.

    I'd say there are some mods that exist now, and mods that will invariably exist in the future, that will be frowned upon. We are a small but friendly community; let's face it, that number 1 spot on the ladder does not matter as much as the community does to us. It doesn't even cost us anything if the Rank 1 person is one who completely ignores what's frowned upon and what's not, because in the end we still have our community... does that make sense? I am just trying to say there is not really any need to enforce a strict form of moderation. I think it's fair to say 'hey you can use whatever mods you like, but you should know that for competitive play, certain mods give an advantage which is frowned upon'.

    I believe that is what @elodea was touching on in the original thread, am I understanding you correctly elodea?

    Anyway, my 2 cents I guess, love you guys/gals <3
    rivii and elodea like this.
  19. tatsujb

    tatsujb Post Master General

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    that is a problem for Uber to solve, not us.

    (and i really wish they would solve it too!)
    stuart98 likes this.
  20. tatsujb

    tatsujb Post Master General

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    as cola colin said I think you can reach n°1 spot without ever using any mods. In fact I'd almost argue that had been the case for elodea (he didn't know about free energy or uber map and hotbuild wasn't providing him any real edge)

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