Greedy Goblin

Monday, July 25, 2016

Are video games technical sports?

This is a screenshot of a page of the program I wrote for analyzing the monthly CFC killboard data. It's 320 lines long. It uses a self-made library to do most of the tasks, 1170 lines. The end of year analysis and other special tasks are separate programs of similar size, using the mentioned library. It's probably not the best code, my formal programming training was two decades ago, IT improved a lot. I am OK with local computing, but I couldn't write a single line of web application, so the data had to be fetched from he API into a text file by Hanura H'arasch, which is surely a bunch of more programming lines.

My question is: while writing this code, was I playing a video game? Do you consider my time spent on it as "gameplay?" Or even a broader term "entertainment"?

If not, what was it? Was it work? Then it must have some kind of product and there is none. I can't sell it, nor I can use it myself for anything outside of the game.

Was it science or training? I believe it was, as new knowledge was obtained: what CFC lost in that month and to whom. You can claim that it's worthless knowledge, but it's objectively knowledge anyway. The question is, is it OK for a video game to expect people doing science instead of gameplay? Please note that if something is possible in the game, it's necessary if you are competitive.

Sports are games, the outcome depends on player skill. Except for "technical sports" like Formula 1. Here the player skill is secondary to the building of the racing car. The real competitors are not drivers but constructors. Do you claim that video games are technical sports where the real competitors are third party tool developers and the players using the client are just racers? If so, then why are they paying money instead of being paid by the constructor teams? Does this make any sense in an entertainment activity?

The only way out of this mess if we conclude that allowing "constructors" to exist in a video game is a bad idea and game developers must not support or even tolerate the existence of third party tools.


Anonymous said...


Killboard analysis is a service and it can be sold. Turns out it is work.

But let me get to the main point: You claim that API services are bad, because they outweigh player skill. All the while, goonies had what's probably among the best API services. Yet they lost because they... lacked essential pvp skill. So, turns out skill > API after all, and that makes claiming otherwise wrong. And you did claim that, I believe.

Not like I'm not sympathetic to the line of thought that games should be decided by skill, but shit must be straightened here. Specific field we have here simply doesn't permit direct human analysis without tools, thus tools are needed, as long as there is a need for analysis.

So, let's say it like this - would it be acceptable from your point if there was a requirement enforced by some kind of technical limitation that third party applications are only to be made available to everyone (as in not limited to certain alliance ids and such) and present only finalized data (so dumping for further analysis is forbidden, and all you want to do must be done within your app's scope)?

P.S. lmao at the vintage pascal shit, just how old are you?

Carson 63000 said...

Is analyzing killboard data really so different from, say, a football coach analyzing video footage of a upcoming opponent in order to plan counters to their strategies?

Gevlon said...

@Anon: Can you link a "killboard analysis for sale" advertisement where someone sells this service?

Goons lost, because they abandoned the game for monetizing. You can't win if you don't even try, just want to get multi-dollars.

I'm saying that any form of tools must be made by the dev (as this is the only possible way to make it available widely). Actually players can build it on sample data and then the dev buys it and make available.

@Carson: not really. However a football coach is not a player, but a paid employee of a team (even children's coach is paid by someone, likely the school). Are you claiming that video game players must belong to teams and pay coaches?

Anonymous said...

"The question is, is it OK for a video game to expect people doing science instead of gameplay? Please note that if something is possible in the game, it's necessary if you are competitive"

It was not necessary.

Did you write your own tools for WoW, or BDO?

If not, is it because you are not competitive there?

"I'm saying that any form of tools must be made by the dev (as this is the only possible way to make it available widely). Actually players can build it on sample data and then the dev buys it and make available."

Apart from sites like Curse? Or Sell orders/Buy orders on the eve forums?

maxim said...

You have asked a lot of rhethorical questions.
And yet you didn't answer the single simple question - "Why not?"
What is the essential difference between writing a piece of code and doing a sequence of actions in a game?

There really aren't any (and i'm saying that as someone who spent a great deal of life coding and with a great deal of respect for the job).

Also you are still skirting the issue that some (read, most) players are simply not competitive. So things that are necessary for someone competitive like you are simply window dressing for them.

Anonymous said...

There's a mistake in the creation of your premise. There are actually two games being played here. The first is the "being resident of New Eden, flying ships and interacting with other residents" videogame; the second is the "be better than other players" game. In the former, ANY use of things outside the game world is cheating, including guides, wikis, videos, and external tools and mods. For the latter, anything goes. So while it's expected that there should be some form of recordkeeping, CCP's choice to leave it to "the community" and third-party services just means it's a bad game. You didn't NEED to analyse killboards. Cutting off the enemy's supply is simple fact of war, and you'll know you are winning when their region starts shrinking.

As for F1, you have it backwards. There are very strict vehicle regulations (and a lot of things are done electronically now), and an amateur in an "epic" car will always lose to a pro. The car is a tool to help the driver win, and finding a skilled crew to tweak it to his liking is just as much a part of the race as the driving itself.

>why are they paying money instead of being paid
This hits the nail on the head. Tool developers should be getting payed by CCP for doing their work for them, but this so commonplace that no paying customer would quit the game over it, so they have no problem having an API and leaving the rest to everyone else. At least Blizzard officially puts some addon functions into WoW.

maxim said...

For the record, "player outcome is dependent on skill" is not a defining trait of all games. A very basic game, called Snakes and Ladders, is entirely random. And yet is still a game.
So is Pokemon Go.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: in WoW I wasn't in top competition, so didn't bother. In BDO there is no API, so it's impossible.

@maxim: "What is the essential difference between writing a piece of code and doing a sequence of actions in a game?" Are you trolling?! OK, I bite for the LAST TIME: one is a profession the other is gameplay.

@Anon: an amateur of course loses in a good F1 car. But a reasonably OK driver can and will win.

Esteban said...

You're on the right track. 'Are you getting paid' and 'is it fun or rewarding?' are probably the key questions here.

If former no, latter yes, then it's part of playing that game. I realise that there are a few grey areas in that, but they don't demolish the rule of thumb.

Almost anything can be made into a technical sport. I could probably write some homebrewed code to analyse the sounds my speedbag makes while I work it, and find some way to use that to optimise training. I wouldn't get paid, it'd be a fun intellectual challenge, and it might make me a slightly better amateur boxer.

Because I'm also a giant nerd, I once had a lot of fun writing a collection of short stories based on the viewpoint of a character at various plot points in a single-player RPG. Okay, obviously they were crap and would never get published, but technically they employed a skillset that can be monetised. Still 'part of the game' for me, though.

All the spreadsheet stuff we've all done over the years to make fake money in MMOs is also something people get paid for. Not a whole lot, as it's mostly data entry and very rudimentary analysis, but they still do. Yet we did it because it was fun to win at market PvP. (and, for me, as a socialist, to have the resources to be a friendly, helpful ppl, of course)

Speaking of friendly, helpful ppl, consider the guild/raid leader's job. By parts statistician, human resources manager, therapist and drill sergeant. Technically not required to progress, but someone good at handling people, a marketable skill, will do a better job than someone who is not.

Anonymous said...

Gevlon, what do you think about steam/valve making player mods monetized before the community backlash shut it down?

Andru said...

All games have parts that annoy a player, but they must do it if they want to get better at the game.

Some call it grinding, other might hate the Auction House, some despise leveling, whatever. In any case, players do those things even if they don't want to, so by your definition...they are not fun. Are they work then? And yes, even grinding is a marketable skill, seeing as people buy gold or whatever. The demand is there. You can become a (maybe not chinese) goldfarmer and sell your services, and some will buy from you.

Writing code is the same kind of work. I see no essential difference between writing code and grinding. Note how buying gold, for example is illegal, while grinding for yourself is not.

At most, your theory can extend to something like: "you must write all your own addons, and not get it from someone else." Only that giving away code doesn't have the same opportunity cost. If I give you my gold, I have none left. Thus such a goldbuyer gains an advantage by concentrating multiple players' power on a single character.

However, giving away code only loses you the comparative advantage you had over the potential competition, but it is very much "a rising tide raises all boats" kinda deal.

Games are technical sports at the top. You don't even need an API. I used to play a card game. I wrote my own excel spreadsheet tracking wins and losses to analyze my draft games, and surprisingly to no one at all, my win rate increased by 5% afterwards ditching statistically poor cards.

Sure, I could have not done that, but that would have gimped myself. Winning is fun, so I did some work to get even more fun after. This is what games are about.

Zyan said...

my 2ct.

for me, programming tools for Eve, is a part of gameplay. The API is a part of the game, so interacting with the API is part of the game. Just because someone has no clue of playing with the API doesn't make this part "unfair".
I have no clue of PVP in Eve (or at least I'm very bad at it), but do I claim that it is unfair, just because I can't do it? No, this is just a part of the game, that I can't play and I'm fine with it. I don't expect CCP to remove the PVP in Eve just because I can't deal with it.
Or I want to fly a Titan, I have to learn the skill. Or Eve it self, I want to play but don't have the money for it...

Same with the API, if you know what to do, and you have fun while doing it, fine go ahead. If you don't - go and do something else in Eve.

You can't even out everything in a game, there always have to be a winner and a looser. What about "four wins" if someone can't count to 4 - ok just reduce it to "one wins". Or if someone always has bad luck with dice, just remove the dice from "Ludo"/"Sorry!" and everyone can move as far as he want.
Or in a Casino I don't know the rules for Black Jack, so noone should be allowed to play it and all have to play Roulette (but only the black and red thing, the other stuff is to complicated).
Or in a Formula 1 race, I have totaly no clue how a motor works but I want to play there. So Bernie E. has to adjust the rules and remove all that tricky motor stuff, and that aerodynamic, carbon fibre ... and reduce all to bicycles.

Yes there are some aspects in every game that help someone who know how to do it, and those who don't know it are a bit behind. You always have the choise:
- learn and be competitive
- not to be competitive, but who cares, I still have fun and keep playing
- take your hat, and leave for something else.

In my opinion everything I do in context of Eve, is gameplay, even writing this post.

And don't get me wrong, I love your blog, and even if you moved from Eve to BDO, I still visit it almost daily.

Antze said...

Some facts for consideration:

* for some people developing game tools is indeed fun and games
* developers generally strive to make public APIs easy to work with and not sophisticated
* generally one only needs entry level programming skills to work with APIs (you don't need to be a skilled programmer, just a student enthusiast, for example)
* still, those are professional skills, and not every person has them
* to create something really significant and worthy to be used by others (DeadlyBossMods and such), entry level skills are not enough, you need to be rather professional and probably have a team
* there are people over there, who believe that in the 21st century it helps ANY professional working in "intelligent" area (doctor, accountant, designer, lawyer, etc.) to learn basic scripting skills. The reason behind it: their work is anyway related to processing information, and that's basically what computer systems are designed for. If you're able to handle your work data with a script and not just with pen and paper, you have competetive advantage as a professional. It's not a requirement for being a successful person in life, but a plus.

These points explain why all this is often a "grey area" and some dev can genuinely believe that if they bring in some programming challenge, they do no harm for the game. It's really "hey, everyone can do it, and if not, they can ask a fellow student to do that for a can of beer". They are wrong and that's not fair, of course.

As I said back there: any "metagame" professional challenge must either be clearly stated in the game info ("this is the game for programmers"), or be kept away from competetive area of the game (coders are free to compete who writes better and nicer LFR UI, but they don't touch essential player interaction).

Anonymous said...

I don't get the desire to draw a distinction. If I spend an hour a week watching Game of Thrones, and two hours listening to podcasts and 15 minutes reading, it is all "Game of Thrones" to me.

Someone who does not read Out-of-game websites is going to be really hindered, probably more so than someone who does not use an API. WoW talents, classes, gearing and profession choices or EVE skills and builds are greatly improved after Googling. Like most, I shall never play BDO but if I were to, I would certainly do better because of reading this blog.

But then, I don't think of MMOs as games. LoL, WoT, chess are games with clear victory conditions.

Anonymous said...


>All BAD games have parts that annoy a player

>players do those things even if they don't want to
And that's THEIR CHOICE, not the GAME'S fault

>by your definition...they are not fun
control-F fun... not found by Gevlon

>even grinding is a marketable skill
ANYTHING can be "marketable," and there's no skill in grinding. It's the OPTIMIZATION that's valuable, in which case you would no longer be grinding!

>I see no essential difference between writing code and grinding.
You don't see the difference between playing a videogame and not playing? Are you having sex when you're buying condoms?

>buying gold, for example is illegal
If it were ILLEGAL, there would be no RMT, or any game purchases at all!

>your theory
He's asking a question. What theory?

I'm not even gonna bother with the rest. You have never been able to put more than five words together while making any sense, in any comment you've ever made. Go back to the beginning, read EVERYTHING, and think really hard before making any more posts.

Smokeman said...

Woah! That's Borland Turbo Pascal! I haven't seen that since I started to learn how to program 30 years ago.

This is what you have to use in Hungary? I'm sorry, man.

Anyway. Yeah, I see the same thing in WoW. The interaction between the spells, talents, and gear are so stupid complicated that virtually no one can select what works best without a PhD in Theory Crafting.

So what do people do? They go to "Mr. Robot" or "Icy Veins" and do what the "Experts" tell them to do. Why make the game this complicated? Are people really so retarded that the "illusion" of choice that they then give up to an "expert" is better than a simple and clear system that does exactly the same thing?

Anonymous said...

> Can you link a "killboard analysis for sale" advertisement where someone sells this service?

You do realize I can just make one? The thing is, I believe it'll sell. I really do.

> Goons lost, because they abandoned the game for monetizing. You can't win if you don't even try, just want to get multi-dollars.

You are obviously more knowledgeable on the topic, so tell me, how many goons have "abandoned the game for monetizing" and how many did not? I was under impression, that beside Sion-Mittens crocodile and cat marriage, not much of them are for it.

@Smokeman it's actually FreePascal (as suggested by fp.exe window title). The language was never ment to do any actual work, and it's one of the world mysteries for it to be voluntary used...

Gevlon said...

Who would buy killboard analysis? People don't even pay for the killboard itself!

If the top leaders abandon the game goals, alienate the other leaders and ignore the interests of the people, the people are pretty much screwed unless they can get rid of the leaders.

I used Free Pascal because that's the language I've learned 20 years ago. This is kind of the point: do you really say that I should have learned an up-to-date language just to play a video game?!

Anonymous said...

>Someone who does not read Out-of-game websites is going to be really hindered

It's rare that people use cheats to make things more difficult. This idea shouldn't even cross your mind unless your enjoyment rides on the thoughts other people have about you, but there are already terms for that.

It's even more basic than that: when the game was new, there were no guides, EJ or anything, and people cleared things just fine. See: Gevlon's casual raiding group. They still used guides and watched videos, but the real beauty of the project was that it proves you can use the game's built-in social features to have an entirely in-character experience (no lolspeak, off-topic scrictly in separate chat) and still win, and win well in fact.

The irony in all of this is that by using guides and tools, socials miss out on the act of getting better at the game by socialising with their group to overcome challenges, the most social experience you can have with the game! Using wikis and APIs is the most asocial thing you can do, which is what they really mean when they say "no-lifer"—they're using the exact same guides too, believe me. They just don't want to admit that some people would rather play alone than deal with their chatter. These same people also cry about "replayability" while using every shortcut in the book to get to the end faster. If they would just honestly say "I suck now," the game would last longer AND they'd have a friendly group of peers to play through it with. Everyone wins.

Anonymous said...

in a way your brain is a third party tool.

maybe I'm old but getting games to run was at times a challenge. I remember reversing and fixing a game over months with back and forth discussions with local gurus and BBS conversations. called the company and they couldn't help, yes CALLED (anybody actually knows what phone company absolutely raped you for for cross country calls)! with your pascal knowledge you seem old enough to know about the computer and phone/network transition of the past decades maybe lived them even.
But that was part of the game. getting the damn thing to run. sometimes it would run out-of-the-box other times it or the OS maybe hardware needed lots of "attention".

What you want is to let bots play the game and enjoy that play like watching fish in a fishtank. I really can't think of anything else. As long as humans play they will try to break it to get a look inside. Sure devs should provide to level the playing field but still some will dig further to satisfy their curiosity.

Carson 63000 said...

@Gevlon : " However a football coach is not a player, but a paid employee of a team (even children's coach is paid by someone, likely the school). Are you claiming that video game players must belong to teams and pay coaches?"

Oh, not at all, I was just thinking about the actual activity, not the person who was doing it.

I'm sure that, for instance, there are competitive Hearthstone players who spend time before tournaments watching video of other players who will be competing. So there's an example of reviewing video of an upcoming opponent that doesn't involve a coach employee.

Anonymous said...

I just don't come close to understanding some of these comments.

You don't need external resources to play tic-tac-toe. But unless you are a one in a billion prodigy, you need to read external resources before playing chess or bridge or poker. And to a lesser extent, WoW or EVE.

BTW, the point is not that you need to learn a modern computer language, just that someone did. I don't expect my employees and coworkers to try to experimentally figure out things that can be found via basic research.

People who think you can come up with the optimal WoW rotation by trying it a few - instead of a few thousand - casts, do not understand MMOs or statistics. But if someone has spent tens of hours of experimentation, why should I redo that just because I am too lazy to use Google.

Gevlon said...

No doubt that any external research helps winning. My point isn't that PLAYERS shouldn't do it and only do gameplay (that's M&S behavior) but that DEVELOPERS shouldn't enable it by creating API that can only be utilized by professional external work.

maxim said...

Apparently, you have now taken the high ground of "you are a troll".
Well, here is the kind of statement, that cannot be dismissed as "trolling":

You have chosen to define games as "competitive and not professional". By doing so, you are entirely dismissing all games and players that are non-competitive, and also the portion of competitive playerbase, who are also professionals in their games.

As it turns out, these classes of players are the main beneficiaries of APIs. Non-competitive players use APIs to fiddle with games in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways. Competitive players of non-competitive games can use APIs to turn their game into something competitive. Competitive players that are also professionals can use APIs to increase their in-game efficiency (and thus be better professionals).

Obviously, your issue is with the third category - when competitive professionals destroy the game for competitive nonprofessionals through the use of APIs (making it impossible for nonprofessionals to compete). While i do agree that a developer should be very careful about introducing APIs in a competitive setting, the whole premise seems exceedingly weird to me.

The same argument can be used to say that, for example, Starcraft training houses destroy the game for everyone. Or that pro football clubs destroy the game for everyone. And yet, plenty of people are playing both Starcraft and football outside of training houses and pro clubs and enjoy themselves.

Ultimately, what you are saying only makes sense if we assume that games are only worthwhile when you strive to reach the highest point of excellence in them and anything else is a waste of time (and therefor, devs must artificially lower the highest point of excellence achievable by limiting available APIs, so that people don't feel left out).

I can't agree to this.

All aesthetical considerations aside, APIs enable all sorts of products and markets. Some of them questionable and illegal, but a lot of them definitely very good (google "Awesome Games Done Quick" for a great charity example).

Should your hard stance on APIs ever become a law in reality (which it won't), it will surely destroy some illegal activity (which will be replaced by other illegal activity before long), but it will also destroy a great deal of perfectly legal and very worthwhile activity (which will prove hard to replace).

From where i sit - FAR more harm than good.

Andru said...

@Anonymous attacking my points.

>All BAD games have parts that annoy a player

Say WHAT now? Do you have anything to add, or are you just adding snarky one-liners in hopes I get intimidated?

Getting past that, even if your 'fix' is true, it is logically fallacious, ie "All bad games have annoying parts" does not mean "There are no good games that have annoying parts." I wouldn't have pointed this out, but seeing as how half of your post was based on semantic nitpicking, two can play that game.

>players do those things even if they don't want to
And that's THEIR CHOICE, not the GAME'S fault

Yeah, have you even played a computer game in the last...oh...say 40 years or so? Because your comment makes no sense. Yes, players are choosing to do it because it gains them a competitive advantage. It's not the 'fault' of the game, but is the nature of competition, of psychology, whatever you want. I'm not going to claim that having grinding is poor game design (this is beyond the scope of the current discussion), but that such 'work-like' activities are inherent to the competitive edge of gameplay, and there is no inherent difference between one type of work-like and another type of work-like activity.

>by your definition...they are not fun
control-F fun... not found by Gevlon

Oh please. Gevlon has an entire archive of "playing to win vs playing for fun" articles. Only a monumental ignoramus would claim that the current cycle of articles are unrelated. Keep your snarkasaurus under control.

>even grinding is a marketable skill
ANYTHING can be "marketable," and there's no skill in grinding. It's the OPTIMIZATION that's valuable, in which case you would no longer be grinding!

Ah yes, 'skill'. The eternal mythical games-beast that everyone claims to have while having their asses handed to them by "24/7 nolifer grinder noobs".

Needless to say, I am not convinced. Optimization is valuable, sure, but it still is work-like. We can replace references to grinding with your mythical skillful optimization, and my argument would still hold water. Being that competitive advantages in gaming require work or work-like activities, and banning one of them makes no logical sense in a generalized fashion. (And more particularily, that claiming API and mods are breaking the game is farfetched.)

>I see no essential difference between writing code and grinding.
You don't see the difference between playing a videogame and not playing? Are you having sex when you're buying condoms?

I just explained what I mean. If you're going to enunciate strawman arguments then there's nothing to say to you. Rephrase your contention in such a way that makes sense.

>buying gold, for example is illegal
If it were ILLEGAL, there would be no RMT, or any game purchases at all!

Fiiiine. S/illegal/Against game rules. There. Christ, I can't believe I have to spell things out.

>your theory
He's asking a question. What theory?

And you are the one claiming I didn't read his blog. A few days ago there was another blogpost about the same thing, in which yes, he enunciated the theory that programming skill should have no place in the game, since it is a real-life skill that not everyone has and thus is unfair in providing a level playing field. Are you being willfully dense?

I'll finish up with one of my favourite quotes from an anonymous author:

"I'm not even gonna bother with the rest. You have never been able to put more than five words together while making any sense, in any comment you've ever made. Go back to the beginning, read EVERYTHING, and think really hard before making any more posts." ~Anonymous, cca. 2016

Gevlon said...

@Maxim: there are two differences between training houses and API. The first was addressed in the first post
- in training houses people play the game (read: sit front of the client and perform game moves), while with API they are writing code

The second is the topic of this post
- training houses improve the very limited selection of players who participate in them. API using programs allows players who are NOT programmers to get advantage by using the program received from the programmers. This means that programmers - like car builders - form racing teams and the actual players must get into these teams to be competitive. Their success depends not on their own skill (not even programming skill!!!) but their ability to get into such teams. With simple example: the line Goon who had no clue about anything was still more powerful than the average player because he had access to various Goon tools and Goon FCs and Goon spies weakened his enemies. For years his life was win-win-win, despite his skill was literally "click broadcast, press F1". Then his life turned into lose-lose-lose without him doing any different.

My point is that in the case of the API the competitors are "Goons", "PL", "MoA", while players are interchangeable and irrelevant, regardless of skill (including coding skill). This is OK in spectator sports (where players are paid to entertain spectators), but horrible for games where players pay for the chance to be decision making actors.

Antze said...


I thought it was common knowledge that EVE is "team sport", that is, one player is unable to change anything (unless he is a leader, or influences other people in a different way -- GRR fits this description). Only groups of people matter, and their performance depends on key people doing their jobs. Even if there were no API, the Goon situation would still be possible, Goon spies would similarly weaken Goons' enemies, and an average Goon would have much easier time fighting. So, an average EVE player is not a decision maker, but someone's minion/slave (Goons) or deliberate follower. API is not the cause of this, just the catalyst that makes things worse (e.g. it favors big social groups, small ones can't afford a coder in their ranks).

I believe you have just switched your focus onto the wrong thing. Interchangeability and irrelevance of players is never a problem, most of them are irrelevant in any game anyway, and even competitive ones often need a group with leaders, management and some metagame: statistics analysis, theorycrafting, etc., and they actually depend on the leaders' and theorycrafters' performance (or they must do these tasks themselves).

The problem is, in a classic game one needs only baseline human skills for anything. For having fun and being irrelevant: understanding game mechanics. To make a change: leadership, socializing, maths, working with data. But with API, you are required to have a specialized professional skill (programming) somewhere around you, in order to make a change.

Also, I don't (yet?) see a significant difference in being paid to be irrelevant or pay to be irrelevant. If some people enjoy being irrelevant, devs can rightfully receive money from these. But when the reason of others being more relevant than you is no longer their excellence in human skills (thinking, leading, inspiring people), but in some technical skills, that's blatant discrimination.

Summary: I see valid point against video games being technical sports, but I don't (yet?) see a point against team sports part.

Gevlon said...

@Antze: in team sports the team as one wins or loses, but the strength of the team depends on the strength of the players. WoW raiding is a team sport. Put ArthasDKlol into a top raiding team and watch them wipe again and again and again.

In case of technical sports the performance of the individual players is secondary, often quite simple (pedal to the metal and keep the steering straight for drag race) and the performance of the equipment decides the outcome.

In team sports the team of better players win over the team of worse players. In technical sports the team with better equipment wins over the the team with worse.

Goon players weren't better than TEST or N3 players. They merely had access to better API services. The Goon spies were not real human spies but API scrappers and analyzers.

EVE *meant to be* a team sport, but it isn't. The road to win isn't getting better players or even more players to your team, but better API tools. (Let's ignore the "who corrupts Falcon harder" part).

The victory of GRR wasn't because of having a better team (I didn't have a team at all), but better killboard analysis (which needed API). After I published the results of the killboard analysis, anyone could finish the job, even a lowly RMTer.

Antze said...

Actually I'd say you did have a team (MoA), but that will be useless definition controversy, I realize what's the difference between this case and having a team in common sense.

I haven't heard it before, the part about old Goon victories coming mainly from better API tools, was it indeed so? I was under impression that you stated it yourself that in old times they had good players, and only after they switched to monetization game they lost them. Not arguing with you here, just suprised by unexpected data.

The rest is obvious and I agree, I know the difference between technical and team sports. Seems that I just misunderstood your previous comment then (you looked like you were opposing team sports and not just technical).

maxim said...

I think i'm finally beginning to understand your position.

To me, writing the code for the game is part of the game, because when i write an API-driven piece of code, i'm still pursuing my in-game goals. To you, it is not part of the game, because it is not a part of the actual game process (which involves actual game decisions made and resources spent), but rather a part of preparation for the actual game process.

The issue arises when preparation actually removes some decisionmaking from the game itself. F/ex instead of having to decide to move each item from one container to the other (and thus make a multitude of smaller motor-level decisions in terms of clicking on this icon, dragging it over there, repeat for next item etc.), you have an API move them all in bulk (and thus make just one big decision with just one click that handles the rest for you).

This reduction of amount of decisions one has to make within the game is the biggest source of API-driven advantages. On the most basic level, it enables both higher speed of playing and AFK processes (game can proceed without waiting for player input). On a more complex level, it changes the nature of the game from being the game of small low-level decisions to being the game of higher level decisions with more impact (player decisions become more powerful and affect more things).

As a result, however, we may get in a situation where, for example, people who have ostensibly signed up to play, say, a role of a hero on a battlefield (with minimal troop control possibilities, thematically befitting a hero), suddenly having to face off against entire well-coordinated API-driven armies.

Now, it seems you agree that this is okay for a game like Starcraft, where a pro level player will trounce a newbie in a precisely this fashion (pros are different from newbies because they are able to control a larger picture and make higher level decisions and trained themselves to automate lower level processes).

However, it seems you don't think it is okay in a scenario where the superior player didn't actually go through his own learning and was simply gifted the ability to play a higher level game simply by virtue of being associated with a larger group that wrote the APIs.

It seems your position has, ultimately, the most to do with an individual's advancement through the game. You'd rather see pure games that test pure skills without external distortions.

My position on this is that the higher level decision making the game offers, the better, regardless of whether you have to earn it or not. I am not much interested in how individuals advance through the game, but rather how far they can, ultimately, take it. Whether they do it on the back of an API or on their own skills is kind of beside the point for me. In fact, I would be perfectly fine with a game where players end up configuring their own bots that would play most of the game for them. In fact, i do believe we very much need more such games if we are to be prepared for the increasingly complex world of XXI century and onwards.

So when you are saying "ban APIs", i hear "kill the potential of games as a tool for learning to deal with complex emergent situations". Hence my reaction.

Post too large, so splitting it.

maxim said...

Wrapping up the topic, i think i found a point where we can agree.

Practice shows that, regardless of how advanced an API is, a person with good basic skills still gets much more mileage out of any API solution than a person that was just gifted the API.

However, as you correctly point out, it is entirely possible - even easy - to build a game in such a way that anyone who is gifted the API is automatically superior to anyone who was not, regardless of their skill. Which will result in a game that discourages skilled play, therefore lowering the probability of people achieving truly great feats within said game through a combination of API and basic skills.

Eve is easily one such game. Now that i think of it, gambling for CS:GO skins is definitely another such game.

An API that undermines player skill in a specific game is indeed an API that defeats its own purpose - expanding player potential within the game. And it does it in a very insidious way - by convincing skilless API players and non-API players that skill is irrelevant.

I, personally, think that this is not a good reason to ban APIs. People that want to get more skilled will simply switch to games, in which API doesn't obscure skill. However, a way to differentiate between the two without sinking days/months of gameplay would still be very much welcome.

Dornier Pfeil said...

And yet, plenty of people are playing both Starcraft and football outside of training houses and pro clubs and enjoy themselves.

Bad analogy. The game for a group of friends playing a scratch game of football on the corner lot isn't ruined by proballers because they are not directly competing against each other. It would be ruined if there were laws dictating that amateurs could only play if they only played pros in a stadium.

There is only one place to play EvE and everyone has to compete against everyone. The closest EvE comes to dividing players is among High/Low/Null/W-Space, which is fairly good (as far as that goes).

I think this is a definitional problem. If a game company creates an API intentionally then by definition it's part of the game and real life programming skills count. Gevlon's question is: should they intentionally bring real life professional skills, not evenly spread among all people, not relevant to the game, into the game, in the first place.