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Author Topic: Ilwrath Silhouette  (Read 3461 times)
Shiver
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Ilwrath Silhouette
« on: December 27, 2006, 08:46:04 am »

I've talked to some of the developers and they've been rolling around the idea of making the Ilwrath visible to its controlling player while cloaked. I am 100% in favor of this, but they seemed to be on the fence. What do you, the humble internet forum users think of this?
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Captain_Smith
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Re: Ilwrath Silhouette
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2006, 09:10:34 am »

Under what conditions?

If it was just for net melee it could be a possibility, but otherwise, NO - in a personal meeting of two players in the same room the feature would negate the advantage of the cloak at all
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C. Bob
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Re: Ilwrath Silhouette
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2006, 09:24:58 am »

Smith: Net-play.

We've discussed this a bit already on #uqm-arena -- for those unaware, I'll restate that I am equally 100% *against* this. In my mind, it's against the original game -- if the developers ever wanted your Avenger to show up on your side, cloaked, they could've done it when you fought the computer, in either SC1 or SC2 (SC1 being where it would really matter), and they didn't. As a result, it makes no sense to me to do it, as it would disrupt the original game experience for people forced to play online, and would alter the game balance.

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Re: Ilwrath Silhouette
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2006, 11:10:59 am »

I pretty much agree with Bob. Changing the Avenger to be visible to the pilot controlling it makes it easier to control even for the skilled player, making the Avenger more effective, and I'm mostly against game balance changes.

However, this raises the more general issue of netplay cheating. As UQM is open source, it is quite easy to adapt it to include a variety of player performance-enhancing features ("cheats"), such as:
  • Display of cloaked Avengers (even for the opponent); minor impact (Avenger position is reasonably easy to deduce anyway).
  • Display of planet position even when off-screen; potentially major impact (planet avoidance, improved chances of successful gravity whip with slow ships).
  • Automatic aim; major impact on long-range non-homing weaponry, especially Druuge, no impact on homing weapons.
  • Automatic shielding; major impact on shield-equipped ships, especially Utwig.

Luckily, the design of UQM netplay pretty much eliminates any cheat that involves illegal changes to the game state, limiting the range of potential cheats to those that are equivalent to superhuman perception and skill. However, as shown above, that is bad enough.

The question is: what is the policy of the UQM devteam on netplay cheat prevention?
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Re: Ilwrath Silhouette
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2006, 11:25:57 am »

Yep that's really a good question - how would you prevent cheating of that variety in an open-sourced game? 

The only way I could possibly think of doing it is closed-sourcing the anti-cheat routines (all the methods I could think of could get subverted through access to the source), but I'm not sure that would fit with the letter and spirit of the license agreement it's under?
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Re: Ilwrath Silhouette
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2006, 12:08:22 pm »

Creating a non-GPL fork of UQM would require the consent of all copyright holders or a rewrite of whatever they've contributed. This is unlikely to happen. Although it would be easy to set up UQM to check that it's an official binary, it would be equally easy to use the source code and the official binary to create a version that pretends to be the official binary. The only solution I can think of right now involves abhorrent root-kit like tricks ("trusted computing").

I suspect the only way we can detect cheating at all is through behaviour: for example, is this guy's shooting consistent with a known aim-bot (and too good to be real)? Based on examples from other games, this should force the computer-assisted aiming and reflexes to be subtle enough to pass for human (although still enough to make a bad player appear to be quite good and a mediocre player excellent).
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Re: Ilwrath Silhouette
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2006, 12:35:12 pm »

Quote
Creating a non-GPL fork of UQM would require the consent of all copyright holders or a rewrite of whatever they've contributed. This is unlikely to happen. Although it would be easy to set up UQM to check that it's an official binary, it would be equally easy to use the source code and the official binary to create a version that pretends to be the official binary.

There's the problem.  Every method I could think of to check the binary could be subverted in some way.  Perhaps the best way I thought was to maybe self-check the binary upon execution of net melee with something like MD5, but you could always rig the source for it to report the expected MD5 hash instead of the correct one.
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Re: Ilwrath Silhouette
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2006, 01:05:31 pm »

In response to the cloaking issue: we try to stick to the original(s) as closely as possible, but the fact is that TFB never had the option of hiding the ship only to the enemy (except for vs. computer games, but this could be seen as training for the other modes). I would go with whatever TFB prefers. So I've put it on my list of questions to ask them at some point (there are more issues like this).

At some point, I'd like to have some pre-game negotiation screen, where players could set the game parameters (with the the original behavior as the default). Some examples of things that could be there:
  • Is the fleet visible to the opponent
  • how many planets, asteroids?
  • perhaps even per-ship type modifications (speed, hit points, value, etc)
  • enforce points limit, maximum number of ships of one type, maximum fleet size
Whether or not to show cloaked ships to their owners could fit in here too.
Note that this hasn't been discussed with the rest of the core team, they're just some things I'd personally like to see. It may never happen.

As for cheating in general, there isn't much you can do about it. Even close-sourcing/obfuscating part of the source (which we would never do) would not stop the determined.
Where it is possible to prevent cheating, we would like to do so. For instance, when both players have to pick a ship simultaneously, it is possible to hide the choices until both have made theirs.

Btw, as an exception to Novus' remark, under certain conditions it actually may be possible to change the game state, through manipulation of the random number generator. For instance, if the player can decide to do or not do something that may ask for a random value (firing a bullet may be enough), that changes the value that the RNG produces the next time. It may be possible to use this to influence something like whether a Pkunk ship resurrects or not.

Also, as you may know, we intent to make all game file formats human-readable (the plan is XML). This includes savegames for the full game. As we do not want to tempt people to just change a few numbers, we want to include some checksum. So if someone really wants to cheat, he/she will have to make a bit of an effort. The game is just too good to be spoilt on a whim.
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Re: Ilwrath Silhouette
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2006, 05:34:05 am »

As for the Ilwrath Silhouette, I think it's a good idea.  They did that in Timewarp, and I found the ship easier to navigate.

Many human players avoid using the Ilwrath Avenger, because they cannot see themselves move.  Personally, when I (rarely)use the ship, I have to decloak occasionally, just so that I can see where I am, which increases the chance of a missile of plasmoid locking in on my position.  If I decloak, then cloak, and move far away, I could throw off those missiles, plasamoids, and other fighters as well.

If the Ilwrath Avenger were to have a silhouette for ease of navigation, players would use it more often in melees, and have more worth as a ship in a melee.  Is this something that TFB intended to have anytime soon?  I have no idea.

Even if the silhouette is implemented, faster ships capable of firing backwards (e.g. the Nemesis, Eluder, etc.) can still defeat it, since the Ilwrath player is the only one who can see the silhouette, although the Ilwrath player may have a better chance of avoiding those hits.
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Re: Ilwrath Silhouette
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2006, 05:02:27 pm »

If you're going to add a silhouette, why don'tcha also make it that the opposing player's screen doesn't zoom in when the ilwrath gets close, to add to the natural advantage the ship should have.  Wink

-kwamp
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Re: Ilwrath Silhouette
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2006, 05:44:50 pm »

That would bring a major advantage to the Ilwrath in addition to knowing its own position, and the opposing player would have no idea at all where the Avenger actually is, and they wouldn't be able to blind-fire as well anymore.

When I battle the Ilwrath, I rely on the zooming in order to win, otherwise I wouldn't stand a chance...
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Re: Ilwrath Silhouette
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2006, 11:53:03 am »

Ok first… Novus, your first post in this thread scared the holy crap out of me! I had no idea it was like that. In my humble opinion, the modifications you were talking about basically destroy the honor of the original game, don’t you think? I guess when you pull back all the lotus petals, you’ve broken the flower!
Ilwrath Silhouette: I think a good to master player can pretty much tell right where the Illwrath ship is most of the time anyway. If not just for a really good sense of zoom proximity, there are the stars winking out sometimes when the Illwrath passes over. It’s obvious the silhouette idea would only be advantageous in net play; and certainly not as bad as always knowing where the planet is.
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Re: Ilwrath Silhouette
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2007, 05:31:54 pm »

Picking the Ilwrath is just something I do when dicking around anyways, as the ship blows so bad.

I am rather adept at maneuvering it while invisible, but the biggest problem is that it is so damned slow.  Any competent opponent will know exactly where the illwrath is, regardless of its visiblilty.  Wherever you are on the screen, the illwrath is directly opposed to you.  In all honesty, it wouldnt make one difference to me, it would only make people who suck with him not suck so bad...  Sad but true, the Illwrath sucks.
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Re: Ilwrath Silhouette
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2007, 09:45:09 pm »

I think the cloaking feature is a tricky matter. It always bothered me that the computer could
figure out where I am (or I can figure out where it is) based on the screen's postion/zoom.

If this is for net play only, then I agree with making a faint out-line of the Avenger to
aid the pilot. Perhaps also disabling the zoom (while cloaked) could be added as
an option? The Avenger isn't much good as-is and I'd like to see it used more.

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Re: Ilwrath Silhouette
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2007, 12:41:17 am »

Meh, cloak or not because of zooming and camera position it's not geinus-hard to figure out where the ship is, and assuming you're not in a slow tub like a VUX or earthling you can usually stay away and just blind fire at its general position.  At the very worst the Ilwrath avoids your fire and causes a stalemate.

I am in favor of giving a navigation aid for non-hotseat play, but given this is probably, in my opinion, the worst ship in Star Control I don't think it really matters either way.

As previously mentioned, if you got rid of the zoom/camera position, these ships would go from awful to fantastic, but fat chance of that ever happening.  I hate those sadist spiders anyway.
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