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Benefits/Drawbacks of highly custamizable games.

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Benefits/Drawbacks of highly custamizable games. -or- Extreme Ability class gap. -or- Where exactly does cheating begin?
On the topic of games that have higly customizable features, typically accomplished through an in game scripting language. Ex: Quake .cfg files Benfits: Highly customizable. Make the player behave exactly as you want it to. Bind Bind Bind to your hearts content. Script that tough Jump sequence. Drawbacks: Too customizable? Make the player behave exactly as you want it to. Bind Bind Bind to your hearts content. Script that tough Jump sequence. LOL, you see what I am getting at. My thoughts... In playing any game, at some point you start to get fairly good (or you stop playing it forever). In a highly cutomizable game (Quake 3 as reference), at this point, winning and playing well seem to take over enjoying the game for its ''wow'' aspects. For instance, I could have my environment set to look dark and spooky and neat--as intended--but instead it is brightly lit and less defined to ensure maximum framerate and visibility for maximum fragging. Is this overkill to allow this in a game? When the ability to tweak the game to improve expert playability at the known expense of the creators'' original vision is introduced, are we seeing a good feature or are we detracting from the game too much? Does this make it too difficult for newbies to have a good experience with veterans? No newbie is going to hang with a veteran. And no semi-newbie is going to hang with a veteran running a highly tweaked system. Does this introduce a (so to speak) rich/poor class gap that becomes overly discouraging to the new and/or uninformed? Cheating sucks. If you are playing a multiplayer game, don''t cheat. But what is cheating? Downloading an AIM bot? Yes, that''s obvious. Downloading a wall hack? Yes, that''s obvious? Copying or writing a script to do a sequence of maneuvers? Well, its getting grey. Sure its cool to have a multi layer zoom available, but the newbie has no chance of acquiring this on the level. Contrast this with knowing where a rail gun is--eventually Johnny newbie will find that rail gun. But then perhaps, eventually Johnny newbie will go online and find my zoom script. How about tweaking network settings? But then, how about a 56Ker playing a T1 connection? So things are out of your hands, why not give everyone the option to optimize for there situation? But what about those who do not know of these capabilities? I tend to figure that it all comes down to the game. I also think that Q3 is overly customizable, and leads to too much cheating. But after playing for a while, I want a more sensitive mouse, etc, and I agree with that being a worthy customization. Your thoughts please...when/where does it cross the line? Is there a line? --OctDev The Tyr project is coming...

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No. Quake 3 does not cross over any lines. How is customizing your autoexec file cheating? It''s not. They allow you to alter your setup. Yes, using an aim bot or wall hack is cheating. But not modifying some client side variables.

In my autoexec file, my brightness is at 100%, I have different sensitivities for each weapon (higher senses for rocket launcher, etc, lower ones for railgun), I have cl_mouseAccel on 0.0225, I have poly levels on the lowest possible level, r_picmip is on 5..etc.

I like it that way. It''s how I want my copy of the game . It''s customized by me, to work for me . There is no crossing of any line.

Everyone knows graphics are not everything. But your post would say otherwise. You''re saying people are getting too much into their frag count, rather than enjoying the "wow aspect" (visual aspect). The game was meant to be PLAYABLE. To have great gameplay. Wanting a higher frag score is PART of that. The point of the game is not to oogle at the graphics, it''s to have some damned competitive fun.

To simply answer your question again: No, Quake 3 is not crossing any lines.

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I think that he is not trying to lean in one direction or another. Just asking the question: anyway. I think that when someone uses a script to make themselves jump/duck, then fine, because I can do it manually w/ no problem and I kinda pride myself in being able to do it. Someone may argue that when you do it manually sometimes you might mess up, but the jump/duck script NEVER will, except if the person hits the scripted button to early or late or whatever. So you might argue that the script takes the human element of error occuring: consider if you are in a messy situation and you are bit nervouse, you might mess up a manual jump/duck, but the script will make it so that your character acts inhumanly perfect in a messy situation, even though you yourself are freaking out.. see what I mean?
Now a jump/duck just reduces pushing 2 buttons to 1, but what about 3 or more seperate body maneuvers in one scripted button? To me that is getting stupid, because you multiply the argument that I listed above.

I personally play manually, and I do VERY well, both at Q1, and CS, Tribes, and I pride myself in being able to keep my cool and still be able to perform delicate, skilled moves, not just hit a button and let the computer do it for me like a little no-skill chump!

Thats my take on it.

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I''d probably start a war with this comment, but the Quake series weren''t so much games as they were engine demos. In other words, Carmack makes more money from selling his engine to other game making companies then he does from actual sale of the game. Not that the second is an insignificant number, just when programming the engine, that was the primary thought on his mind. When he finished the engine, it was passed on to the development team and his active participation in Quake reduced to drawing design docs and giving pep talks. With this in mind, its no wonder that Id arranges quakefest. To bring the gamers together and put a small message out to other companies, "look what my engine will get you."

As to customization in a game, this is totally at the discretion of the developer. They have control over what the player can be doing. if they want you to cheat, they leave in quicksave and cheat systems. As a developer, if you don''t want this, then don''t include it. On the other hand, if your a gamer, my only advice is to stop buying the games that you don''t like.

-> Will Bubel
-> Machine wash cold, tumble dry.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
dont give me that shit that custmisation isnt a form of cheating. For starters, lets ask ourselves the purpose of the wallhack, its to see things/people where by default you couldnt see. Now take CS for example, if i leave my brightness at the default, there is shadows and everything that people can hide in, you cant see people in these dark places and that is how the game was designed. If i whack my brightness up, i can everything now, no darkness. So anyone who used to hide here and get me is no longer hidden and i can attack them.

Hang on a sec, does this not sound familar to the purpose of the wallhack, changing the brightness allows you to see things in places by default you couldnt. Its exactly the same purpose and is therefore CHEATING.

And when you get onto scripts, its just pathetic, the moment the gameplay is taken out of your hands and is placed upon the computer (aimbot etc) thats cheating, and thats exactly what jump and shoot scripts do. I dont care if you think its customising the game to how you want it, what a copout. Hell ill just go customise the game to how id like it, wallhack, aimbot YEAH that sounds fair, im not cheating, its just customising the game as you said.

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Anonymous, you are a fool. You obviously have no idea what a wall hack or aim bot actually does.

A wall hack allows you to see where other players are no matter where they are. Some wallhacks draw a little sprite on your screen over an enemy model, and you'll see that sprite running, even if there's a wall in front of you.

An aim bot does just that, it uses its native program code to control your aim for you. One particular aim bot allows you to bind the command "+autoaim" to a key (a command that IT CREATED, and ONLY IT recognizes), and as long as you hold the key, the program will automatically snap your aim to the nearest opponent, and fire.

None of these can be done simply by modifying a view client side variables. They all rely on the programming of the author/s to do this job for them.

Turning up the brightness of your screen is not cheating. Where do you even get the grounds for saying this? The developers GIVE you the ability to do it, it's YOUR choice to change the brightness. Everyone can do it if they want to. I have my brightness all the way up; now I can see more clearly. Am I cheating? No. I'm using an option that id software gave me. Other players can too. And most of them do .

You must not be a real FPS player if you think that all of these games must be played exactly how they were shipped to you, with all settings on default. This is such bullcrap. Any real player customizes his game to work best for him. This is the purpose of having your own configuration file .

[edited by - munkie on July 26, 2002 12:16:15 AM]

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The one problem with player customizations is the possibility of exploitation(which brightness and macros do to a degree) and these exploitations being used to gain an advantage over the other players because they don''t know or are limited from doing the same thing. Even in the earliest days of (popular)online games like MUDs and such, people have put together macros to heal themselves or cast spells.

So the only things a developer should have to worry about in this regard, really, is making sure that whatever advantage gained is not overwhelmingly great, and that it''s not an extremely complicated process for a new player to reach the same level.

Making the world furry one post at a time

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quote:
Original post by munkie
Everyone knows graphics are not everything. But your post would say otherwise. You''re saying people are getting too much into their frag count, rather than enjoying the "wow aspect" (visual aspect). The game was meant to be PLAYABLE. To have great gameplay. Wanting a higher frag score is PART of that. The point of the game is not to oogle at the graphics, it''s to have some damned competitive fun.


You''re missing the point of the post completely. I did not state opinions saying graphics are everything. I merely commented on an increased focus on tweaked gameplay leading to an inversely proportional focus on graphics. The intent, which I thought was clear, was to discuss the merits and weaknesses of such designs, from the standpoints of both gamers and developers.

This then led to two concurrent discussions, the first being on whether this discourages newbies from trying to compete with players who have been playing for some time, or are familiar with a previous version, etc. If you had never played any quake game before, do you think you would have a lasting good time on any public multi-player server right now?

The second discussion revolves around where to draw the line for the definition of cheating in a multi player game. If merely changing client side variables is ok, why do some servers dissllow certain variables and limit others'' thresholds? Something to think about.

quote:
To simply answer your question again: No, Quake 3 is not crossing any lines.


I understand your point. However, Q3 is just a tangible example that many of us have experience with. The real question remains a comparison of the benefits/drawbacks of highly customizable games, and this should be further elaborated to clearly intend multi-player games.



--OctDev

The Tyr project is coming...

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quote:
Original post by TheEnderBean
I think that he is not trying to lean in one direction or another. Just asking the question:


Exactly.

quote:
I think that when someone uses a script to make themselves jump/duck, then fine, because I can do it manually w/ no problem and I kinda pride myself in being able to do it.


This can lead to an interesting situation that I hadn''t thought about before. Include base scripts with the shipping title. Now the newbies have these scripts and are made aware of them. Then, the trully elite are encouraged to perform these feats without the use of scripts. I have never even considered implementation before, but perhaps adding a % error to all scripted (multi-button) commands, so that trully perfect and consistent execution can only be achieved by masters who do it all manually. That...would...be...elite!


--OctDev

The Tyr project is coming...

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quote:
Original post by Inmate2993
I''d probably start a war with this comment, but the Quake series weren''t so much games as they were engine demos.


Agreed in some respects. Perhaps I seemed overly focused on quake in my original post. I meant it only as an example to help clarify the generic situation.

quote:
As to customization in a game, this is totally at the discretion of the developer.


I am curious. If you were developing a mp game, and you had the choice between the two, and you had 1000 top notch programmers working for you so it made NO difference either way (perfect world sceneario) which would you choose and why?

--OctDev

The Tyr project is coming...

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
dont give me that shit that custmisation isnt a form of cheating...Its exactly the same purpose and is therefore CHEATING.

And when you get onto scripts, its just pathetic, the moment the gameplay is taken out of your hands and is placed upon the computer (aimbot etc) thats cheating...


And this was (sorta) the opinion that I wanted to hear. I think in a single player game, the game has been designed around some sort of story and customization should not be as accessible. However, in typical mp environments, stories get thrown out the window in favor of killing each other. People can tweak their monitor settings outside the game. Shouldn''t it be accessible from within the game so as to keep from discouraging players with dark monitors from hassling with it every time they enter and leave the game?

You don''t like the additional features of being able to completely customize your gaming interface?

And what if someone is on a laggy connection? Shouldn''t they be allowed to tweak things to even up the ingame fighting?



--OctDev

The Tyr project is coming...

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quote:
Original post by munkie
A wall hack...
An aim bot...

None of these can be done simply by modifying a view client side variables. They all rely on the programming of the author/s to do this job for them.[quote]

So as long as you don''t supply any new code, it is not cheating then? Any allowable modfication of client side variables is ok though?

[quote]Turning up the brightness of your screen is not cheating.


Agreed.

quote:
You must not be a real FPS player if you think that all of these games must be played exactly how they were shipped to you, with all settings on default. This is such bullcrap. Any real player customizes his game to work best for him. This is the purpose of having your own configuration file .


What about the situation where someone is completely new to the FPS genre?


--OctDev

The Tyr project is coming...

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quote:
Original post by RTF
The one problem with player customizations is the possibility of exploitation(which brightness and macros do to a degree) and these exploitations being used to gain an advantage over the other players because they don''t know or are limited from doing the same thing...
So the only things a developer should have to worry about in this regard, really, is making sure that whatever advantage gained is not overwhelmingly great, and that it''s not an extremely complicated process for a new player to reach the same level.


Agreed. But how do you go about making it easily accessible for new players. So far, I think that my earlier thought of providing scripts but making scripts behave poorly by default is the best solution. Your thoughts?

--OctDev

The Tyr project is coming...

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The problems with inconsistent execution of something that could be done manually are these:

1. Some things, like brightness and sniper scripts, would stay unaffected.

2. Players feel like it''s a cop-out on the part of the developer that they deliberately made the game "harder" for them. They will try to find ways around any kind of protection against script exploiting, and it''s very likely that they''ll succeed before a few patches are released.

My own opinion is to give everyone the "keys to the kingdom," if you will, right from the in-game menus, and otherwise completely eliminate anything you don''t want to see in your game(bunny hopping, duckjumps etc.) since anything else will lead to animosity between players:

"That script''s a cheat"
"No it''s not"
"Yes it is cheater"
"STFU n00b"

The only way you can keep this kind of dissatisfaction down is by setting out as clearly as possible what you are allowed to do, and limit the rest completely.

Making the world furry one post at a time

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The intended use of client side variables is, or at least should be, to make the game playable, for instance by increasing the brightness on for someone with a darker monitor. Using them is not cheating per se, but I think that as soon as you use them to give yourself an advantage (eg turning brightness way up to see into shadows) you are entering a gray area if not cheating outright. Just because they''re there and permitted to use, does that make using them right? Should they be there?

People in quake 1 went to ridiculous lengths to give themselves an advantage in online play. They turned off texturing and lighting, made water invisible, used modified models, turned off head bobbing, changed the crosshair, used skins that blended into the background, they even turned up their FOV so they had a wider view angle and could see people beside/behind them. From what I remember most (maybe all) of these weren''t hacks but valid changes you could make either by using custom files or modifying console variables. Would you call that cheating? I would.

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The camera position trick has been disabled in most online gaming servers for Quake 3, because that can legimately be used for cheating.

As for FOV, you cannot see more around you by changing the command cg_fov in Quake 3. It simply distorts the perception of everything.

You can use it for zooming, but zooming shouldn''t be considered cheating either.

I think cheating is using any 3rd party assist to give you abilities that normal players would not possess by simply playing the game. Changing the brightness to make things clearer is not cheating. It''s an option you''re allowed to tinker with. Anyone else can do it too.

Just because a newbie to Quake 3 wouldn''t know to do things like lower texture quality, does not mean that it''s cheating. Eventually, they will most likely discover options like this. That''s part of the fun.

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OctDev--
I would probably half and half it. Since you must have a server, I''d leave a yes/no option for a lot of things. But this is an independant, like q3. If it was a subscription mmorpg, then I would go hard and not allow much in the way of gameplay customization, and for the very reasons given, unfair advantage. Not that everything would follow set paths, I would allow customization thats worked for in my set design. But things like keybinding scripts, not a chance. My game would test your ability to roleplay it based on rules, not geek it apart with your knowledge of being a programmer at id software.

-> Will Bubel
-> Machine wash cold, tumble dry.

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Games generate a creative space; people use that creative space in a way that pleases them.

Is it the player''s fault for being selfish? Is the game''s fault for not reacting to the player''s choices?

Are you going to introduce morality? How do you introduce morality in a game when morality begins with the player?

Should the issue really be "the fruits of gaming"?

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maybe games should have less graphical intense enviroments that did not require graphics tweaking on lower end hardware for decent (50+) framerates? maybe levels should be designed to be lit properly using the entire spectrum of colors and not have pitch black areas surrounded by very dark areas. some moniters are darker then others. brightness changes are normal. if the area is close to black increasing the brightness merely washes the video put causing some glare. gamma controls will cause an increase in contrast since now darker ares get lighter, and is actually designed to fix moniters. NO moniter handles color linearly, so gamma correction fixes this by apply the reletive color brightness in a non linear fashion. thus the screen gets darker or lighter quicker.

ALL those options are easily found by anyone who clicks options. while i agree to an extent that veterns have an advantage over nwbies when they sue scripts to help perform complex manuvers, by the same token ANYONE who decides it worth their time and effort to create such scripts should use them. its part of the game. its part of the game, no one has to download anything special or requires anything beyond the game. sure some obscure commands require the console command reference, but someone who wants the knowledge can get it easily (if not then they are not playing online).

why punish the vetern so the newbie can play better? CS has done this (cant move hostages, less accurate weapons, etc) and the gameplay has gone down hill.

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So...

3rd party additions are cheating. It is additional code, others don''t have it, it is an unfair advantage.

Client side variables are still a grey area, by consensus. However, if the developer put them there to be adjusted, I lean towards any adjustment being ok.

As far as public vs. subscription servers, I agree. If the servers are being run completely by the developing company for some sort of consisteny (be that subscription based play, etc), then consistency must be uphold by limiting customization. For privately held but publicly available servers, give the servers limiting options, with several generic ''gameplay option'' templates.

There is no way to make a player moral; in fact, many play games just to be immoral. So it lies upon the developer to force any morality that they deem necessary for gameplay. This ties in nicely with the server situations above, and leads to the next observation.

If a game must force morality then it must attempt to level the playing environment. Cutting edge hardware requirements are a poor design choice for games forcing morality (and disabling most customization) on their players.

Finally, I think the best point is a person''s final one--why punish the veteran so the newbie can play better? Always keep that in mind, as your veterans are likely to continue generating $$$ and word of mouth publicity.


--OctDev

The Tyr project is coming...

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I wouldn''t say scripting is cheating so much. What I''m saying is an environment that lacks rules almost always has thoses that take full advantage of the lack of control. I would rather see a detailed ruleset with toggle options for a q3 type game.

To throw a question at you, is it cheating to use item glitches in rpgs to get yourself a full inventory of a certain type of item? My answer would be yes, because its not something that the developers set aside when they wrote the rules.
How about an enemy in the game that gives of bazillions of exp, and has 1 hp and 0 in all of it''s attributes? Not cheating. It''s a clear and intentional addition to the game.
Scripts in an online shooter? Clear and intentional feature addition to the engine, I say its not cheating.

-> Will Bubel
-> Machine wash cold, tumble dry.

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Perhaps I was unclear. I think we agree. Scripts are not really cheating, as they are added by the developer for the gamer. I think that it would be ludicrous for developers to include scripting engines for gamers in certain types of games (in a MMORPG, for instance, rules need to be established), however, it works very well in FPSs.

I would say that if you are taking advantage of a situation in a game that is later patched by the developrs, it is a clear cut indication that you were cheating by manipulating an unintended side effect of the code. If it is a feature that is intentionally provided, then you are free to pass go.

It really just comes down to a design choice of what to include. When should environments become overly customizable? We''ve already covered some of this. Basically, when it provides an unfair advantage. Is scripting by veterans an unfair advantage in a FPS? No. In much the same way letting someone have an 80 level character and a newbie starting with a 1 level character in a RPG. Experience creates both veteran situations. Yes, the experience is not handled strictly the same way, but it comes down to experience in both situations.

--OctDev

The Tyr project is coming...

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