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HonoredMule View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2011 at 21:38
That name sounds familiar...yes, he tried to go out in a blaze of glory on me.  I told him my response would be patient but resolute, and he offered restitution and said he'd pick another target--after his attacks started landing and found only empty cities with the resources stripped and armies camping outside.  I wasn't about to let the matter distract me from the tournament.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2011 at 22:33
Originally posted by The_Dude The_Dude wrote:

As noted by HM, the top alliances are well-led and the brass all seem to have good political skills. 


I thought I'd thoroughly convinced you by now of my general incompetence in addition to my moral turpitude...

Obviously I can add puerile communications skills to my list of character attributes... ;)
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2011 at 23:09
I heard that self-deprication was the first sign of a criminal matermind trying to conceal their true identity.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2011 at 23:19
Ah, those devious materminds, lead by the alma matermind.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 May 2011 at 23:53

Just in case anybody gets any funny ideas, this is not even remotely an official view, just some personal musings, tip of the hat // wag of the finger style. Do not take any of the words below as indicating anything may or may not change.

I repeat, these are purely personal views, coming from a player equally used to the cutthroat environment in EVE and the more "honour"-bound environments of other browser games...


On one hand, a tip of the hat for whoever came up with the strategy, it sounds particularly effective (low cost, high yield) and is quite creative.
The EVE side of my gaming psyche relishes the idea of underhanded tactics.
It is also so incredibly cheap, that even new players could make near-full use of it.
In fact, it's quite a bit more effective for new players, or better said, relatively new alts of old players (if you recall, having exactly two accounts is perfectly acceptable), since after a crash development phase, they can simply teleport their capital somewhere very, very far away (preferably having picked dwarf for the slow scouts), and cover a huge area near their enemies for a very long time this way.

On the other hand, a wag of the finger for almost the same, but slightly different reasons.
The "honour" side of my gaming persona identifies this tactic as particularly "cheap".
There is no doubt that a moderately well established player could cause trouble to a large number of people he sees as enemies, and quite frankly, this "amplification" effect is what gives me the willies. It doesn't "feel" fair that a handful of "nobodies" could significantly interfere with people who worked quite a long time to get in a position to do anything of note during the tournament. And that's not even the most disappointment inducing factor - that's reserved to the fact that the tactic involves a very large number of easy (and easily automatizable) tasks, which is the very definition of grinding, which I hoped would not play such a major part in the game.


For the time being, it is my personal (and only my personal) opinion that regardless of arguments on either side, whatever rules were in effect when the tournament started should remain in effect until the tournament is over.

However, once the tournament is over, we should take a hard long look at what we really want to do in future similar tournaments, if any similar ones will ever be held (or if some mechanics used in this tournament will remain in place for other purposes).


For instance, do we really wish to keep the "NPC spawns remain active past respawn" mechanic whenever they have ANY form of incoming regardless of duration ?
Does it make any RP sense for an army of NPCs to sit tight if they telepathically feel somebody will be arriving even several days later at their location ? Wouldn't it make much more sense for NPC spawns to have a predetermined "lingering" duration instead which can not be affected by things "on the way" ?
If we pick a predetermined duration, should it be fixed or random ? Should it depend on number of units at the location ? How would you indicate to a player (if at all) roughly how long will the spawn remain in place ? Should you warn upon unit launch that by the time the units get there, the spawn will likely have vanished or not ?
Should there be any tactics to "keep" the units around, like, say, a diplomatic unit equivalent of "blockade" (so, only in effect if the units are there and STAY there, also susceptible to enemy diplomatic unit retaliation) ?
On the issue of animal parts dropped - would it make sense if it would be a "per unit killed" drop chance (and different drop chances for every type of NPC creature, with better drops, both in chance and quality for the creature types you usually only find in larger NPC groups) ? How about raids, why not let raids also snatch parts, but at a drop chance penalty (say, a third of the normal drop chance) ? Should it really be a true random drop, or should there be some minimum/maximum caps to limit the effect of randomness ?

As you can see, there is much to discuss, much to balance, or even new mechanics to introduce.
The talks regarding it will most likely take a long time, and if any new mechanics might be decided to be introduced, that might take even longer.
Or it could be decided that this really is not an issue (or at least not affecting much beyond this particular tournament), and everything could be left in place.

EITHER WAY, it's obvious a knee-jerk reaction at the current point in time would do more harm than good in the long run.


So... for the current participants... good hunting, and good hunting interdiction.
May every party involved at least TRY to have some fun despite interference.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 May 2011 at 00:21
Interesting that you should mention grinding.  This tournament as a whole feels very much like a grind fest, and while I have somewhat enjoyed the renewed activity it brought about, I'll be equally happy when it's over, even if Harmless is unable to hang on to their trophy statue from the first one.  I think there are better things I could be doing with my play time, and too much of my time spent in such "play."

I don't think the mechanics in question have much bearing beyond the tournament, but I would wholeheartedly support any updates that give diplomatic units more influence to such extent as being able to accompany armies to protect them, assault camps, occupy tiles to lay traps for incoming attacks, influence NPCs, etc.--in exchange for losing some simpler effects they now possess.  Some of these things have been on the roadmap already, while others are possibly new ideas resulting from this tournament and the thought of diplomatic orders gaining the same breadth as militant ones.  The underlying reasoning is simply that it would be desirable to help diplomatic units achieve the breadth of interaction and strategic/tactical choices they once promised at in hints and abstract ideas.

Of course, I don't know enough about future plans regarding these tournament-introduced drops to predict any continuing ramifications.  So this is more like "new feature" talk to me than balance correction.  The NPC-tile locking behavior was an intended simple solution to rectify a simple problem the environment posed against unwitting PvE players.  The need to counter this effect was never in question.  If it remains in question beyond the tournament, then by all means it should be introduced.


Edited by HonoredMule - 03 May 2011 at 00:29
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 May 2011 at 01:05

Relating to the "grindy" part, indeed, that's why I also mentioned later on the possible adjustments to the drop mechanics (so that fighting just a few larger, more challenging groups could have the potential to actually become more effective than fighting a very large number of small ones).

But that's a story for another time, or maybe even just a story for a parallel universe...

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 May 2011 at 01:29
So...
 
If a diplo is launched at the time the target spawn site is empty does the spawn site remain empty for the duration of the travel to it?


Edited by The_Dude - 03 May 2011 at 01:29
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 May 2011 at 02:50
No, only tiles with units on them will stay in their present state, so long as nothing attacks and clears them.  Once empty, it can respawn regardless of incoming units.

Some players have been burned by this inadvertently, expecting they cannot face a stronger foe than the one they saw upon launch, only to find that spawn cleared and then replaced by a legion that promptly massacres them.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 May 2011 at 05:56
Funny how Harmless? starts this thread, to defend themselves before any accusations have been brought to this forum.  Looks like the signs of a guilty conscience.  There is so much rhetoric to reply to.  I shall do my best to address each point in HoneredMule's opening post.  

Harmless grew tired of the spam-fest required

I find it very humorous that they find the day-to-day activity of hunting to be tedious.  For a large number of us, that is how we train our commanders before taking them into more hostile conflicts.  I do not know how they train their commanders, but if they find the daily activity of hunting as "spam" to be tedious, then perhaps they are playing the wrong type of game.

to keep up in this tournament against an alliance boasting 3 times the active player count.

Notice he says "active".  If the Harmless? leadership was as good at membership motivation, as they try to be in searching for loopholes that have not been closed yet,  their overwhelming numbers would have made this contest a battle for second place.  

 We knew we could better compete on production and heavy-hitting than deployment.

First of all, it does not take much production to produce swarms of level 1 scouts.  Keeping large armies in the field to conduct a serious hunt, takes production.  And if your armies are so good at heavy-hitting, then you should be doing much better in this contest, as you could be taking on the massive groups of animals that give the highest yield per hunt.

 So we took measures to hinder VALAR's rate of deployment.  


Now it would be one thing if they employed typical "dirty" tactics that are part of the game, that we all know are available, but most avoid as it usually is considered a provocation of war.  Perhaps it is because Harmless? feels that such tactics may lead to war, and that they may find there are many more guilds ready to join against them, that they have hesitated to use such tactics.  Trust me, if they are willing to use meta-game knowledge, and exploits as tactics, they are not avoiding use of assassinations because of ethical considerations.  

Naturally they can do the same to us, but we'll hit the bigger parties, and they can do the same if they like, and we'll see whether Harmless's tactic still levels the playing field.  

After a week of Harmless? deploying these tactics, and the administrators apparently feeling they cannot make a move to prohibit something in the middle of the tournament, Valar has started to deploy these tactics.  And as another has pointed out,  we have a much more active and motivated group of players, and are not the type to let dirty tactics demoralize us.  So, now when you see clouds of birds flying across the landscape, some of them may now be targeted at Harmless? territory. I have to apologize for the lag I know this is causing.  Valar would gladly end this distasteful tactic, if Harmless? stops.  

It is a competent general's prerogative--nay, responsibility--not only to level playing fields, but to gain the advantage wherever possible.  Or in Patton's words: "The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his."

The only way a comparison to Patton would be relevant, is if Patton could send a private from Alaska, traveling with bicycle and rowboat, to reach a point in the path of Rommel in the African desert.  Before Rommel could move through this path, he has to wait for that private to pedal and row half way across the world.   Now it doesn't matter that a single .45 caliber bullet could kill this lone private scout, he is invulnerable, and nothing can happen until that private arrives.  Of course then Patton could send another such private to make another worldwide trek to reach the same point, before the first one arrives.   Now, if Patton could do this,  then HonoredMule can compare himself to Patton.   Oh...wait...Patton's men actually fought for him.  Where are all of the large numbers of Harmless? that should be fighting for this prize?

I bear no ill will toward VALAR or Boromir, and well recognize their accomplishment and sound strategy in padding their ranks with the most active NPC farmers.

Thanks for the back-handed compliment.  However, if we are so good at the basic function of this game, such as training our commanders by fighting opponents in the field, and keeping them well supplied, then I think that we are good at other parts of game operations as well.  And the counter-argument to that would be...if Harmless? is not good at hunting animals...perhaps they are not so good at other things as they claim to be?

 My grudges are but one, that they are in first place and we are not, and my aim is simply to rectify that.  It's exactly what we're supposed to be trying to do.  

What you are supposed to be doing, is hunting.  Using meta-game knowledge to use exploits that had not been contemplated by the game designers is not an example of a great generalship and tactician.  Instead it is more comparable to a spoiled child, that cannot have something and raises a tantrum to get it.  

We were confident that our means was not an exploit,


So confident, in fact, that they created this thread to defend themselves, knowing that many would perceive their actions exactly as an exploit.   If it looks like a duck, and sounds like a duck...then it must be Harmless? trying to manipulate the system.

but rather a kinder alternative to spamming timed assassin waves to disrupt their activity levels, or even direct assaults to rob them of equipment and troops.  

Assassinations are actually a dirty but legitimate tactic that is valid in the spirit of the game.  It could be they do not believe they would come out ahead using that method either.  As I mentioned before the ramifications may be more than they wish to deal with.

(We are using troops to hold NPC tiles because some of us simply haven't the time to participate in the tournament with our secondary accounts anyway.)

This tactic, while borderline, is more legitimate than a single scout holding a position.  But what would make this tactic much more valid, is if commanders camping in the field for days and weeks at a time, had a chance to be assassinated, especially when far from their home base.  Also, troops that are sitting over an extended period should be subject to attrition.  And they should be subject to thief attacks as well, since they will not have as good of security as when behind a city's walls.  Using inactive members or alternative accounts to squat on a piece of ground, knowing that this very spot is where an animal will spawn, is still meta-gaming.  However, if there were consequences to doing so, it would be more legitimate.

Neither do I fault VALAR for petitioning our tactic and decrying it as dishonorable, possibly even exploit.  I have no doubt that, in their surprise and dismay at an unexpected situation, they honestly felt it may be the case. 

According to wikipedia, meta-gaming is "used to define any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game".  and an exploit is "the use of a bug or design flaw by a player to their advantage in a manner not intended... Exploits have been classified as a form of cheating; however, the precise determination of what is or is not considered an exploit can be controversial. This debate stems from a number of factors but typically involves the argument that the issues are part of the game and require no changes or external programs to take advantage of them."  The fact that Harmless? needs to employ such a tactic that is causing such controversy, is proof enough that they are straddling the line between cheating and honest play.  Of course there will be righteous indignation when such tactics are used in what is supposed to be a level playing field.  And suggesting that this tactic is honorable in any way is a joke. 

Since that possibility has been publicly presented, and refuted, this is a good time for Harmless to offer our own perspective as well.  

The issue is not settled yet.  Only that the administration seems reluctant to make a ruling to restrict something in the midst of the tournament, after it has already been used. But this is a good time for the perpetrators to spin what they have done to be an honest, legal and honorable tactic.

Of course the mere fact that it isn't an exploit isn't the only issue at hand.  

Simply saying that it is not, does not make it so.  

Harmless is held to the highest standard of honor based both on our position and how we portray ourselves.  I contend that we have not fallen short of that standard in any way.

Once again, this is obviously your opinion.  Of course, it seems what you think of yourselves, is all that matters to you.  If what people outside of Harmless? were to be polled, I have a feeling you would be sorely disappointed in the results.

The idea that honor means standing toe-to-toe, strength vs strength against your enemies, instead of employing clever tactics and subterfuge is itself a clever subterfuge perpetuated by whichever party has the most raw/brute force (be it army strength, account or city numbers, or number of active players launching endless waves).  People who use it today as the justification for their understandable emotional response may not realize it, but the argument truly exists only to promote the circumstances that best ensure that stronger party's own victory or at least the moral high ground in any defeat (and the political influence that imparts).  Proud nobles are always "cheated" when they lose to a weaker or smaller force.  It's the adult, international equivalent of clucking like a chicken and saying "I double-dog dare you to do things the hard way."

A load of psycho-babble where the guilty attempts to baffle us with bullstuff to explain how using techniques that have no valid logic in game-play, to justify their attempts to get around the rules.  If this tactic was truly legitimate, it would not take so much effort for them to try to defend it.  Instead, they are twisting themselves into knots to find a way to justify it.

An important distinction in all this is not how victory changed hands, but what injury was imparted to one's opponents besides taking the victory they might otherwise have had.

First of all, victory has not changed hands.  So sorry.

  If there is no such (significant) injury, and no contest rules were broken, then what right have the losers to condemn the winners

Further proof of HonoredMule's misguided logic, is that they are trailing by almost 2000 with little more than a week to go.  

for playing smart and playing to their own strengths rather than against their opponents' strengths?

Yes, it takes a certain amount of intelligence to find loopholes and exploits in the rule.  And it takes a twisted ego to be able to justify that meta-gaming is a sign of honor and tactical genius.  I guess he is implying that Harmless?'s strengths are exploiting game design flaws, and that Valar's strengths are teamwork and determination.

This is just a tournament, so no one is dying or getting squeezed out of the game

Perhaps you can explain to all the beginning players how they are not being squeezed out, when they find nothing but large NPC encampments, and Hordes, Throngs and Legions of animals surrounding their cities that they are unable to hunt, and therefore enjoy the game.  Harmless? is not being very careful, and are not just targeting npc groups beside Valar cities, but are going several pages away, through the territory of other players, probably some of you.  Many of them are not large cities yet, and so yes, Harmless is squeezing them out of playing the game the way it was intended to be played.   And they are certainly taking the joy of playing in the tournament.  However the joy of defeating them will be much sweeter now, when its through.

or getting much more than their ego trampled...

The only ego being trampled, is that of those in the high and mighty Harmless? that cannot stand to be beaten. So they employ tactics that are outside the spirit of the game.

they're just losing the tournament so we can win.

"sighs"  check the scoreboard.  You are losing..and losing badly.

In the last tournament, we could have used assassins and chose not to, deciding that would upset people too much particularly because we didn't need that to win anyway--it would have unnecessary showboating.  

So you only worry about offending people when you are losing.  My what a gracious competitor you are.  The problem with playing the assassins card, is it can be played back on you, and being caught is a declaration of war.  I am guessing that this was the real reason you did not use it.  But perhaps I have just misjudged you totally.

It is a credit to VALAR that this time we felt we did need a tactical edge this time,

Once again, we are so honored that we have driven you to the verge of cheating (and whether you crossed that line, is still up for debate).

but we're an alliance the same as any other in this game, and still very much out to prove ourselves as the plucky little (in number) old-timer alliance that still knows how to outwit more heavily-staffed opponents.

Once again,  you have the numbers on your side,  Just check the enrollment numbers.  However, what you do not have is motivation...and that comes from how your alliance is run.  And just because you have been around longer, does not give you an excuse to circumvent what the rational player would consider to be ethical gaming.

 We are not obligated to meet VALAR on VALAR's terms,

Sadly, this means that they do not wish to play an honest competition.  Since their tactic will not be disallowed during this tournament, it means that Valar will meet them on their terms.  It is distasteful, but I do not think the Valar are alone in believing that you cannot allow someone to take something from you, just because they found a cute way to sidestep the rules.  

any more than we are obligated to lose outright.  

You do not get it, do you?  This is a competition, and everyone is supposed to give their best.  If someone's best is better than yours, you do not look for ways to circumvent the rules.  That is not winning (nor will it give you the lead in the tournament regardless).  What it is, is declaring that you are not able to compete against others honestly within the parameters of legitimate game-play, and need to exploit the system to keep yourselves from losing even worse.

Victors work smarter, not harder.  

Actually, in about 7 days, you will find that the Valar did both.  Once again...Sorry.

We still refrained from using assassins, as that is a more direct, offensive operation with greater cost to VALAR, potentially spilling beyond losing the tournament.

I have a feeling you do not use them, because you do not have the active members to take that risk.  If you had enough active members, you would be winning this tournament.   

 But who can complain about minimizing the opponent's playing field?  It's just good old-fashioned out-of-the-box problem solving.  

Spoken like almost any other game exploiter I have come across.  What you call problem solving, others call meta-gaming, exploiting, and cheating.  

But, you are the one that started this thread.  The Valar did not create a thread to make complaints.  But when you make these claims they need to be refuted.  

I would like to point out, that this type of game-play, has driven vast numbers of players away from other online games in the past.   While it may not be termed to be illegal,  it certainly goes against what most feel to be fair play.  And many people do not want to play in that type of environment.  This tournament should be a great advertisement for our game.  Instead, Harmless? is using a tactic that if continued, will be a detriment to this game gaining and retaining players.

And as I mentioned, Harmless?'s indiscriminate use of this tactic is doing more than just hurt the Valar.  They are stepping on the toes of other players and guilds, too.  Feel free to show your appreciation to Harmless? when that massive spawn remains next to your city for days at a time, by sending a few scouts their way, just to say thank you.

Finally, a disclaimer.  While I am a member of the Valar, I am just a peon in their ranks, and in no way are my words the official position of the Valar.  However, as a player, that has been around the block, for about as long as this gaming genre has been here, I feel the need to speak my mind when I see something that needs addressing.

Happy Hunting everyone.

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