No announcement yet.

Why is it a cheat?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Why is it a cheat?

    Ok, I was thinking: Why must one declare probe actions against others in MP? I'd think that it would be logical that no-one knew about 'em. And what if you want to frame someone?

    Also, why is it cheating to reverse engineer? I would think that that would be the way it would be done in RL.

    It's against the rules, and I'll go by the rules. But I wonder why.
    It hurts to be on the cutting edge!

  • #2

    Hi, As I understand the MP probe rules you can probe w/o prior notice but if a window pops up on your screen you must hit the declare vendetta option and inform the probed player of your action. This window (wich is supposed to pop up on the other players turn not yours --it's a bug--) is their reaction to your probe action. In my experience you can infiltrate data links w/o a players knowledge (the window doesn't pop up) but anything else and it does and your supposed to hit declare vendetta. With out this rule you could probe other players over and over and they would never get any indication they were probed even if the probe team failed or was captured.

    It's an unfortunate bug because Probe's with their ability to frame other factions etc. could have held great possibiliteis in MP.
    [This message has been edited by Q_tip1976 (edited April 18, 2001).]


    • #3
      What Q said for the probe actions. I'll add that you only have to declare if you are pacted/friendship treaty/ no status. So if you are in a state of vendetta you don't have to declare anything. edit: Once you probe once you are in vendetta so you only have to declare your actions once.

      As far as I know you can reverse engineer. You are not supposed to engineer the probe team into a rover though.
      [This message has been edited by Garth Vader (edited April 18, 2001).]
      Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi Wan's apprentice.


      • #4
        I'm pretty sure that reverse-engineering is allowed on both Apolyton and ACOL - I'm currently playing a game here with Tau Ceti, who is the tourny CMN, and we are planning to reverse-engineer from gifted units. There was some debate about reverse-engineering over at civgaming, but I think the outcome there was to allow all but the probe-to-rover.
        Team 'Poly


        • #5

          Originally posted by DATarbell on 04-19-2001 12:34 PM
          Could someone explain to me what you mean by "reverse-engineering" in the context of SMAC/X? (Oops, my ignorance is showing!)

          Thank you.

          Reverse engineering is taking a unit acquired from someone else (as in probe action or gift - if it is a new unit to you, the game adds it to your collection of unit types) and editing it in the unit workshop. This has the effect of letting you graft special vehicles, weapons, armor, abilities, etc. (the tech for which you did not research, trade, steal or whatever) onto a unit of your own creation, effectively giving you the (military aspects at least) of a tech you don't yet have.

          The Probe/Rover thing is a "feature" whereby you can build rovers by editing the probe unit in the workshop without having the rover tech; this is generally considered a "cheat", since the game clearly puts the rover unit in a different tech from the probe. The scenario in the first paragraph is usually not considered a cheat since you had to actively do something to in order acquire the model, sort of like prototyping.


          • #6
            Could someone explain to me what you mean by "reverse-engineering" in the context of SMAC/X? (Oops, my ignorance is showing!)

            Thank you.


            • #7
              Yet you can't bring up a Unity Rover, Unity Foil or Unity Chopper in the workshop and graft on better weapons, or armor, until the requisite unit tech has been discovered.

              So the ability to do this with a gifted unit, and not with a discovered unit, is a bug, and as such should be considerd a cheat. (Why would your engineers suddenly be able to build whatsits from a gifted unit without the giftor transferring the requisite tech to the giftee?)



              • #8

                You've got a good point.
                (I only vaguely remember being unable reengineer Unity Rovers, etc., perhaps because I only rarely want to upgrade weak green units; I must have tried it with the Unity Foils though because I've often been dying for D:Flex)

                I suppose that we're rehashing old threads here, but just to do my part in the rehashing.....

                We know that real world countries reverse engineer captured or whatever military stuff (like the Chinese are probably doing with the spy plane), so I guess I figure that it's at least a little justifiable to do that with other factions' units. By way of a pitiful rationale for being unable to reverse engineer the Unity stuff, we could say that the Unity units were made with some rare Earth elements (not found on Planet) or with some truly paranoid autodestruct tamperproof tech. (I did say it was a pitiful rationale.) In any event, there probably should be some additional cost in money, morale, or time to account for the effort to actually perform the reverse engineering.


                • #9
                  What if someone "gifted" you a unity chopper? I've never had that happen to me, so I wouldn't know.
                  Don't drink and drive, smoke and fly.
                  Anti-bush and anti-Bush.
                  "Who's your Daddy? You know who your Daddy is, huh?? It's me! Yeah.. I'm your Daddy! Uh-huh! How come I'm your Daddy! 'Coz I did this to your Mama? Yeah, your Mama! Yeah this your Mama! Your Mama! You suck man, but your Mama's sweet! You suck, but your Mama, ohhh... Uh-huh, your Mama! Far out man, you do suck, but not as good as your Mama! So what's it gonna be? Spit or swallow, sissy boy?" - Superfly, joecartoon


                  • #10

                    I liked the concept when it was expressed in Civ II - if you gifted an advanced unit to a weaker civ (e.g. a fighter aircraft to a civ that hadn't yet discovered flight) you got the message "Their scientists have made a wondrous breakthrough" - and in this example, discovered flight (even though they may still be lacking one or more of the prereqs for that breakthrough).

                    If that piece of code had been transferred to smac/x then there'd be no debate.

                    The reason I think it should be considered a cheat is precisely what Misotu is saying. A faction gets the benefits of a technology without the drag on its own research rate by having discovered the technology itself. Thus in team games, the players can tweak the costs of research by, for example, not giving D:AP to a team-mate (which would add to that players tech list, increasing tech costs which have as one variable the yourtech/totaltechs ratio) while still allowing that team-mate to build and operate needlejets. This obvious artificial manipulation of the tech cost formula should be considered a cheat. In the example cited above, the D:AP faction should build the noodles and gift them to its partner to operate, which the gamecode freely allows (the AI does it)

                    But as it hasn't been labeled as a cheat in most of the games you'd better believe that the opposing team in Misotu's game are likewise taking every advantage of lax rules.



                    • #11
                      Oh, and I.R. in the workshop you can't bring up any of the three Unity chassis until the tech has been discovered. So you could click on the Unity Chopper but wouldn't see anything on the workshop options with a helo chassis until you had MMI. But with a gifted (not Unity) chopper you would see the helo chassis without MMI - all to do with the flags put into the predesigned units (the three Unity units cannot be constructed) .


                      • #12
                        Being able to build units by cannibalising/reproducing a probed or gifted unit is not unreasonable, in my view. In fact I think it is an intentional part of the game design and the Unity units may demonstrate this.

                        Seems to me that it makes perfect sense that a faction will get its people all over the new unit, and find out how to duplicate its abilities. That is, after all, the point of a workshop

                        However, finding out how to duplicate something does not necessarily give you all the benefits that would accrue from making tech breakthroughs. Not in real life, and not in the game either. Take your example - Air. If I acquire a needlejet, I can copy it and build more. But I can't build air complexes, so my air defence is weak, my jets have poor morale and I won't be able to launch orbitals when they come. Thus the benefit I derive is limited in a way that seems to make reasonable sense (to me, anyway) and means that on the whole players simply want to get the tech.

                        As you say, the design team went to the trouble of putting flags into the Unity units. This strikes me as an indicator that the ability to reproduce and cannibalise acquired units is intentional. Otherwise why go to all the trouble? Why not simply limit the workshop features to units for which you have the technology?

                        I think it was included because it increases game interest and player options. Here are the situations where I've used gifted units:

                        I want to give another player the ability to build jets, but I don't want them to have the tech. I may believe they would give it to others, or that it may be stolen from them, or I don't want to assist their research. Why should I not be permitted to do this, and why should they be unable to cannibalise that unit? I "own" the tech, and I "own" the ability to use the jet chassis. My choice, I think, how I use that.

                        My pactie and I are under attack from a much stronger faction with better weapons. I have the good fortune to subvert one of their units. Now I can build another and gift it to my pactmate, to give us a chance against the aggressor. I don't have the capacity to build units for both of us, but I can share the new capability I have acquired, just as I would share a key tech I'd stolen. What is wrong with this?

                        In a multi-player game, one player builds the Datalinks. That particular SP is extremely unbalancing in a game with many human players, but there you go. You have to combat it somehow, and you do this by sharing only those techs that the Datalinks team already has, or by limiting sharing new techs to 2 team members only. So of course, that SP has done its job and is causing major headaches. But perhaps, occasionally, you all want to build a type of unit *for which your team has the tech but which you don't want to hand, free of charge to the opposition*. What is wrong with using gifting to achieve this? It's only rarely useful - you can't gift the ability to build base facilities, to increase your commerce income or to improve fungus production for example. So acquiring tech is still meaningful, and using gifting will always be unsatisfactory.

                        These are the circumstances under which I have gifted units in MP. It has enriched the game and made it far more interesting. You will notice that not a single one has anything to do with tech cost. I have never used gifting for that purpose - not because I think it's cheating any more than the dozens of other ways of manipulating tech cost, but because I would regard it as cumbersome and probably not worth the effort in the games I've played.

                        I don't think that everything the AI does should be allowed necessarily - but I've seen the AI subvert my advanced units, then start building more *and it even calls them the same name* to add insult to injury! And I know that it sometimes builds more of the units I gift to them - I've used this a couple of times in SP games. Amusing seeing AI defenders named "Misotu's Blessing" or whatever So I have never considered using the game features in this area to be a cheat, or even approaching cheating.

                        As with many of these debates, it often comes down to a matter of personal taste and style. Please remember, though, that it "hasn't been labelled a cheat in most games" because it's not considered to be a cheat by the majority of players out there currently. When/if that changes, then so will the rules ...
                        Team 'Poly


                        • #13
                          *roaring applause*
                          I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it (Holden Caulfield)


                          • #14
                            Googlie, Misotu wonderfully expressed what I wanted to object to you.

                            You are one of those here whose opinion should always be heeded and taken in good consideration, but now I fail to follow some of your logical "jumps", as with the "Unity Units uniqueness <=> Bug".

                            There are several levle of defects we can find in this game.
                            Something can be poorly coded or implemented, resulting in effects different from those designed and maybe explicitly stated.
                            Something could have been poorly designed, allowing for loopholes, unforeseen side-effects to be exploited (or not to...).
                            Something could have been "strangely" designed, with some odd side-effect previewed and intentionally placed there, notwithstanding that we can find it unrealistic and improvable.

                            Now, the concept of reverse-engineering could be found more or less realistic.
                            You could believe that it's inappropriate to include it in your ideal game.
                            But still it would make sense as in-game concept, it could be a legitimate option of a game designer, although you'd have preferred it differently.
                            How can we know what was in the designer's mind? We can't, we can only presume, but this makes it a long way from calling it a bug.

                            From a logical point of view, I think that it has been many times expressed (and maybe I did it myself) the concept that either you can reverse engineer unit components, or you can't even copy the whole units as they are in the first place. Imagine you know how to produce Impact, Infantry & Rover Chassis, Synth & Plasma Armor. You somehow obtain a Chaos Shock Troop, 8-3-1.
                            Now you may disagree that it's realistic or that it becomes to the game that you can now produce other Chaos Shock Troops. But if the game allows you that, as the units design is component driven, this means that the game allows you to produce the Chaos weapon component despite you lack the tech for it. Why should you then be forbidden to build other kind of units using the same component you gained permission to build?
                            Why sould you be allowed to build an Infantry chassis, Plasma armored unit equipped with a Chaos Gun, but not a Rover chassis, not armored unit equipped with a Chaos Gun?

                            johndmuller made a good observation about the difference between discovered and bribed/gifted units. I also had the same doubt you had, Googlie.
                            But the problem is not that you can RE the latters but not the formers.
                            The problem is that you're not even *allowed* to reproduce discovered Units!
                            As they implemented it, to produce something you gotta have the design, and a design allows you to RE and *reuse* its parts, or you wouldn't be able to *use* the part in the first place.
                            You might not like how they designed this part of the game, but with Misotu and johndmuller I see no evidence of bug in this.
                            As I see it, this difference can make sense (in-game logic), as a discovered Unit could be obtained *before any faction* has discovered the tech related to some of its parts. While a bribed/gifted unit has been produced before by someone else, as the related tech.
                            I can see a precise game's choice, for how it may look questionable, behind it: they didn't want one faction, or worse them all, start building choppers after a lucky pop in the early game...
                            Then, it would have been easy to limit you to design units only with components coming out of your own labs. Instead, this very difference is a clear sign of a positive and intentional effect.
                            In many cases we see bugs where the Firaxians just "forgot" to apply a declared constraint in some unforeseen situation. I don't see the same pattern in this case.

                            Finally, I'm not an all-permissive player, but I think in many cases we really shouldn't "Reverse Engineer our morality and ethics"!
                            That is, you should determine whether RE is legal or not, sticking to its concepts.
                            Once you accept it, then when a smart trick stemming from it allows you to spare some labs in your research costs, that should in no way bring you to believe that the originating concept is buggy in itself. At most, you could propose to abstain from exploiting the side-effect, but only if this can be obtained without forbidding the main technique.
                            I see a pattern like in SE Quickies. It's sensible to say that you must not take advantage of SE flip-flops in the same turn, but this can't lead you to state that Social Engineering is a game bug!!!!

                            In straight words, when we organize a game I'm prepared to discuss whether RE is good or bad in itself. But I won't accept to ban it only because there's a side effect of its use which keeps your tech cost a bit lower.
                            I completely disagree when you say "This obvious artificial manipulation of the tech cost formula should be considered a cheat". I think it's a (smart) use of a legal game mechanism which has its reason to be. I think it does not infringe any rule or game priciple. I also think that you obtain that reduction in the tech cost, at the cost of renouncing to something else: even if you consider a tech which *only* benefit is a Unit component, you always have to remember that you won't be able to research its descendent techs, without the prereq tech itself!


                            Re: reaction to probing in pbems. It's not a proper "bug".
                            There's an *objective* difficulty in implementing a process that in Single Player is designed to be resolved *instantly*, that is *simultaneously*, when you pass to a sequential structure like in a pbem, where the two actors of that process can't be simultaneously on-line at the same time.
                            It's true, the proper behavior should be that the probed player is informed and decides for his own reaction. But for that you should wait that the turn comes to him! While the decision can have a huge impact on the rest of the probing player turn, and of those who'll play in-between.
                            I agree, the solution devised by Firaxians is faulty. But the difficulty was real, you have to immediately apply in your turn the decision of a player who's not online when you probe him, and who will play only some turns after you...
                            I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it (Holden Caulfield)


                            • #15
                              MariOne makes a good point here. If you accept reverse-engineering, which is clearly *designed into the game*, then you must accept it in its totality.

                              Gifting units is an interesting and flexible angle on the game. We play SMAC *because* it's complex and interesting, don't we? More options means more interest as far as I'm concerned. Not that that's news. But I don't have much sympathy for trying to restrict the game. For all my complaints, this is the best and most interesting computer game I've ever experienced. I don't want to clip its wings.
                              Team 'Poly