Is editing deployment files cheating?


I think most people accept that stacking is “legit”, because you can do it in the deployment screen on any map (albeit, tediously). Though ostensibly, even that might be cheating, since it’s most likely a bug that allows you to do it.

But what about stuff you flat out can’t do in the deployment? For example, you can edit the angle your fleet faces at the start (VERY useful for certain setups!). You can also edit the position of your fleet, ignoring the deployment area entirely so that your fleet deploy right on top of your opponent. I’ve heard the argument that since everybody can do it, everybody can do it - all is fair game. But considering how ridiculous this can get, I don’t really buy it. I’m mostly asking because of SAC. I have a few creative deployments that abuse file editing, but I don’t want to unnecessarily open up a can of worms. :slight_smile:

That said, where do we draw the line? What is allowed and what isn’t, and how do we determine that?

I’m a really relaxed kind of person, so I would say declare that it is a hacked deployment and let people decide for themselves if they want to play it or not.

I absolutely wouldn’t suggest submitting such a deployment as part of a SAC though.

There are some very abusive things that can be done through creative editing, like giving yourself a much higher budget than your opponent. On the other hand, the center deployment maps that SAC5 and SAC6 are using were created by editing deployment files. I would strongly recommend that any editing of deployment files should be clearly and publicly stated and I wouldn’t use such challenges in a SAC or other tournament.

So basically, you’re saying that using file editing to do stacking is okay, but other things are not? Why is stacking different than everything else?

If it can be done using the game, then it is not cheating, but “clever use of game mechancis”. Stacking with clever drag&drop falls into this category. Does it work because of a bug? Possibly, but it’s still fair game.
If you have to use third-party tools and hack some files, then it is cheating.

This is really not a difficult distinction. Have you opened a file in notepad and edited it? That’s cheating, because Notepad is not part of GSB.

Go and read Playing to Win by Sirlin.

No, stacking is using a game bug, aka bug using, aka cheating. Cliff is working toward fixing it.

Now, editing deployment files to allow some stuff that isn’t possible via the game UI but should be in, that’s perfectly fine, as long as you warn you did some modding in the description.

Just don’t file edit, play the game “as is”. Otherwise everyone will draw their own personal line. Some people will think it’s fine to cheat a little bit of resources. Some people will think ignoring the deployment box is fine. Some people will think going over/under the AI range is fine. Not the first game I play where save file edit goes out of control.

Stacking through file editing is not okay. If you must do it, don’t talk about it, just say you did it in game.

Of course, don’t stack if Cliff fixed it so it is no longer possible to do so in the game. Stack all you want while the game still allows it.

What about mods? Especially the more over-powered mods that are so popular?

This is a flexible game, and that’s part of what makes it fun. I think we need to draw a distinction in this conversation between playing a challenge, and posting a challenge. Personally I think that when playing a challenge, anything that increases your enjoyment of the game is ok. But when posting a challenge, one needs to consider the enjoyment of the people who will download and play it, which means 1) making sure that they are aware if they are playing modified content and 2) making sure the modifications are designed to make things more fun, not just win-tastic.

Yeah, I think most of us are looking forward to that fix.

I am a mod maker myself, and I am glad people enjoy playing mods.

Unfortunately, rating and win/lose rate does not take mods into account. All people see is X wins and Y attempts, nobody knows how many X win is from a mod. Worst part is, record and rating directly influence how many people will play your challenge. How likely are you to play a challenge with 4 wins out of 4 attempts? So while it’s fun for the challenger, it’s not so fun for the issuer.

If you must use mods online, beat it with a legit fleet first so it doesn’t affect the record.

True, and that’s not likely to change any time soon because right now the game can’t discern between player mods and cliffski-designed content.

Hmm, interesting question because my answer isn’t what you expect it to be. I tend to mostly pay attention to the subjective ratings (difficulty and fun) and not the win/attempt ratios. So I would be no more or less likely than usual to play a challenge with 4/4. I wonder if I am in the minority, or what is typical in this respect.

This confuses me, probably because I’m a relative noob. Does the game stop counting once you have won a challenge? For example, let’s say you post two challenges, A and B. For A, I play against it once and win. For B, I play against it three times and win all three times. My assumption was that the win/attempt numbers for these games would be 1/1 and 3/3, but I think you are trying to say that they would both be 1/1 at that point? Sorry if I’m being stupid here. I’ve never even posted a challenge.

Yes it stops counting once you win.

Problem with rating is that a challenge does not start with rating. Most of the time the 4/4 comes without a rating. Also I don’t think someone who used an overpowered mod can accurately rate a challenge, especially in it’s difficulty.

I disagree. In a game like GSB with zero time pressure, the means don’t matter at all, because the end product, your challenge, is the only thing that matters to anyone. A fleet produced by notepad and a fleet produced by GSB are potentially indistinguishable. No one should care how a fleet was produced, only that it abides certain restrictions.

I think you need to re-read PTW if you think it supports your point at all. It’s actually the other way around.

Basically, I see about 5 different answers in this thread alone. I guess I have my answer as well. I like the distinction between what is capable in game, and what is not. But just because someone might not like the fact that I used text macros out of game to produce my fleet, I’m not going to go out of my way and waste my time by using the in game editor (which I find clunky). If it’s indistinguishable from what can be produced in game, it is indistinguishable, period.

Hack a MMORPG character to level 99 lately? Why grind when I can save half a year of time? Might as well hack a few super rare items too, that saves another few years.

So it does matter to those who “grind” their way up. They feel that their time spend was cheated away from them. As I said before, if you must use notepad, keep it to what’s legally doable and don’t talk about it. It is distinguishable when you publicly admitted to using notepad.

I understand the grind element and I’ve argued the same case at other times. But GSB is a qualitatively different game and unlike MMORGs, the “grind” element in GSB is not a game element, but rather an unfortunate side effect of not having a perfect mind to CPU interface.

In other words, remove the grind from MMORPGs and you are left with a severely diminished product. Remove the grind from GSB … and you still have GSB. Having an imperfect interface is not a good argument for why avoiding the grind is cheating - it only denotes that Cliff has limited time and resources to give.

Everything affects gameplay to some extent. Having a faster computer gives you an advantage by making battles go faster by not lagging. Is that a cheat? According to your strict definition, it is. But of course that’s silly. How about using an external application called “red goggles”, which, when you put on, makes everything appear red. It’s an external application. It changes your game experience. But most people would say its not a cheat. Of course, it could be a cheat, if the game required you to quickly differentiate between sharp red contrasts. But the thing that makes it not a cheat in GSB is, it doesn’t affect an important game element.

Likewise, for grind. The “Gratuitous” name and description of this game make that pretty clear, and I think you’ve missed an important point to this game if you think grind is important at all.

Here I will further specifying why other people might find what you do cheating.

In the case of MMO, some people play for the grind, other people play for the PvP. Just because a person play for PvP and don’t care for the grind, doesn’t make botting fair. Nor would the argument “but everyone can bot” justify it’s use. Everyone can use cheat engine to manipulate memory too if they know how. But it still doesn’t make using cheat engine fair game. Likewise, some people don’t play GSB competitively, where every in game advantage is considered fair game. They just want to burn some time and see some fireworks. To them spamming is cheap, and stacking cheating, never mind doing them both with notepad.

Personally I won’t expect anyone to play this game like me. Just look at my post about the Math of Tribe, I got about 0 reply on that, doubt anyone even read it.

In regard to a better computer, you are putting words in my mouth here. The difference between modifying a save file externally and just having a better PC is obvious.

Again, use notepad if you want, but don’t expect people who are not using notepad to agree with what you are doing.

Also, “imperfect interface” cannot be used as the justification for using notepad in the case of stacking. It is clear from start that stacking was an unintended bug. If imperfect interface is to be taken into consideration, then stacking needs to be banned completely.

The problem with talking about the use of notepad is that, some people will agree, some people will disagree, and some people just found a new way to cheat.

Using bugs is not cheating. Pretty much all older competitive games are about the bugs at some point, and no pros get banned for using them:

  • Tribes had Skying
  • Quake has bunnyhopping
  • Starcraft 1 has strange stacking/acceleration behaviour when you click very fast
  • SSBM has air-dashing.

And so on. Either the developer removes the bug, or it’s a valid (despite unintended) game feature. Stacking is part of the current game, and I will be happy to see it gone.

I think this issue is much less about whether or not the feature physically exists in the game, and much more about what sort of gaming environment you’re creating by doing the thing.

As Kdansky mentioned, a lot of games have borderline-glitchy mechanics, that, while a part of the game you’re given, certainly aren’t intentional. Sometimes, this is awesome: as in the Tribes example, skiing is really fun. It was originally a glitch, but everyone being able to ski around just makes the game neater.

On the other hand, something like SSBM’s Wavedashing quite arguably makes the game less fun. The first time anyone encounters it their response tends to be something like “Well that’s kind of bullshit, isn’t it?” and then they’re faced with a choice wherein they can either stop playing SSBM with strangers or resign themselves to wavedashing themselves through every battle they fight against a “competent” opponent. On the other hand, some people like the mechanic and enjoy fights that involve it.

So, it becomes a question of . . . do we want GSB multiplayer to be a place where every competitive fleet is stacked to a single coordinate? Does that make the game more fun or more interesting? Would it improve the game to know that any given challenge you accept is more than likely to have been hacked to three times its point value 'cause of Invincible Fleet Lawl?

Probably not.

On the other hand, would it create a better multiplayer environment where challenges can be asymmetrical, where challenge creators can post interesting and novel fleet deployments that aren’t competitively balanced, but are hella fun to play against?

Yeah, sure. I’m totally okay with challenges being nonstandard, as long as they aren’t stupid. It really boils down to whether or not you’re doing things in good faith: whether you’re making an honest attempt to be a more novel and interesting player, or whether you’re just trying to give yourself an edge in a manner that makes things way more tedious for everyone else to deal with.

I never get this whole “non competitive but fun” thing.

What’s the fun in beating something with any random fleet. Surely it needs a certain level of difficulty so it doesn’t get run over by a badly build CL spam.

I don’t play the game to win, I play it for the gratuitous asplosions.

Since the game was released, there have been various moves to improve this situation as I see it.
Firstly, there was the introduction of challenge ‘enjoyment’ ratings. This is deliberately separate from difficulty. A huge wall of ships with nothing but armor and cruiser lasers, and no engines is difficult, but is it really fun? Personally, I think not, but I’ll let you decide.
Secondly, there was attempts at fixing stacking. I’ve added to this for the next patch. Ultimately, anyone can edit a deployemnt file and cheat it right now, and although i could easily write code for the game to check all the co-ords before submission (or even better, server-side code to verify the GSB), I don’t think it’s the most productive use of limietd developer resources.
Thirdly, there were supply limits. Setting these up allow you to prevent total spammage in a mission, should you choose to do so. I wouldn’t be surprised to see challenges with 0 crusier lasers, given so many people think they are overpowered. (I’m not sure it’s that simple, but lets not go there :D)

if you are absolutely 100% determiend to win GSB at all costs, you could just code your own darwinian AI to randomly mutate ships and fleets and evolve the ultimate unbeatable fleet. This could be done, and I could not prevent it. Ultimately, I’m designing GSB to be fun, not an E-sport. I don’t have the resources to make a perfectly balanced, perfectly unhackable game. Starcraft II is probably the game of choice for people wanting competition-to-the-nth degree. Given a choice between a day spent making GSB harder to ‘cheat’ and a day spent adding new weapon types or features, I’ll do the latter.

of course, ultimately, the people who decide this are GSB players. If the consensus is that cheating is rife and something must be done, then that’s fine, but generally demands for new features or content outweigh those for loopholes to be fixed quite heavily.