Clash suicide players

  • From my old army days we had a rule about complaints. If you bring a complaint forward, you had better have a solution. Else wise it is not worth listening to. If your solution includes self promotion, then it again isn't worth much either.

    We have a very similar guideline within our company. And just in general I think these are very good words to live by, not just in a work context. Complaining is easy, it requires no effort, skill or knowledge, so you shouldn't think you deserve something (like a solution) for simply complaining.
    That being said, in the context of Rail Nation, I think it's a bit different. It's very honorable and useful if you complain only if you have a solution, but that's not necessary. It's not your job or obligation to do that, especially because figuring out a solution from the outside is often not even possible. For example I could also complain that we don't have any settlements on Mars yet, but I probably don't know enough about the topic to combine that complaint with a solution that is actually useful.

    So even though I fully agree with what you say, I would still say that, in the context of being a customer, simply complaining is still okay. Even if it's not always that useful, you can still voice your opinion. Just hearing your opinion is already useful, especially if you explain your opinion. Then we can try to figure out a solution. Maybe we won't be able to, depending on the problem, but it's good to at least know about the problem.

    Coming back to Clash!: I don't have a solution. We can't prevent people from intentionally losing, we can't control peoples minds. We also can't just punish everyone who simply loses hard. Might be a lack of understanding, might be internet problems, might be someone afk because he needs to answer the door. We can't just ban innocent players. Of course we could catch players who have done it a lot of time; so often that it can't be a coincidence anymore....but then they already did it. That doesn't prevent anything. The same applies to announcing draconic punishment. We already announced that cheaters might get banned and we do it. They don't seem to care. Also, in general, research confirms that announcing harsh punishment doesn't stop people from commiting crimes (or rule violations in this case). Sure, we will punish them eventually, but that doesn't undo the cheating.

    So, before my morning coffee gets cold, let me wrap this up: This is far from being a trivial problem; it's hard to solve. The good thing is that only a tiny percentage of players is foolish enough to cheat in Clash! and since every active player is playing a lot of matches, due to the law of big numbers, everyone is affected in the same way and it doesn't really matter on the long run. It's very frustrating in the particular match where it happens, but it won't stop your progress in general.
    If anyone has a realistic solution to get rid of these frustrating Clash! matches, I'm happy to hear them. If you don't have a solution and simply want to vent or complain, that's fine too. I just ask you to consider that the reason we don't have a solution right now is not because we don't care, but because a solution is simply not that simple.


  • I have a very simple and effective solution.

    I play in active hours (when there are the most players in the game).

    Then the probability of such problems is really small.

    For another year, this solution works for me.


    Salix

    I want the players who have been caught for 2 years in such scams to get a complete ban on participating in Clash.

  • I want the players who have been caught for 2 years in such scams to get a complete ban on participating in Clash

    That is also my personal goal ( possibly including a temporary ban from RN). We still need to check how to do that, but at least that's the goal.

  • I encoutered the opposite possibiity. I think two of my competitors held a grudge to one another and they were killing each other. It was an easy win for me, luckily in this game it wasn't one who did the killing but both towards each other. Otherwise my game could have been judged as manipulated too while I wasn't active involved in it.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -:engine1::engine1::engine1: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    If a turtle doesn’t have a shell, is he homeless or naked?

  • That is also my personal goal ( possibly including a temporary ban from RN). We still need to check how to do that, but at least that's the goal.

    One possible (part of a) solution would be a database table, that stores the names or account ids of the last 2-4 competitors and not to let them run up together till the table contains fresh names ... this way the cheaters would not be able to work together in two consecutive games. Each of them would get new competitors for the next go ... and they had to play that one to erase their names from the table of the other.

    Also, this method would not lead to misinterpretations in situations that Naike described.


    I definitely dislike bans, cause there's always the danger of misinterpretation (see Naike's example), I prefer solutions that make special ways of cheating impossible (or at least very difficult) and take the control from the cheaters ... for example by a way to shuffle competitors.

    Maybe my idea will increase the waiting time at periods of low customer load ... but those cheaters would have to wait even longer to get together again.

    Drei Gruppen sagen immer die Wahrheit:

    1. Kinder 2. Betrunkene 3. Jeder, der verdammt noch mal stinksauer ist.

  • ne possible (part of a) solution would be a database table, that stores the names or account ids of the last 2-4 competitors and not to let them run up together till the table contains fresh names ... this way the cheaters would not be able to work together in two consecutive games.

    Easy workaround for cheaters: Just involve a third account.
    We also prevent that? Np, involve a fourth account. And so on...


    I definitely dislike bans, cause there's always the danger of misinterpretation

    Well, depends. Naikes example is ONE MATCH. Of course we don't make decisions based on individual games, but patterns.

    I prefer solutions that make special ways of cheating impossible (or at least very difficult) and take the control from the cheaters ... for example by a way to shuffle competitors.

    Maybe my idea will increase the waiting time at periods of low customer load ... but those cheaters would have to wait even longer to get together again.

    Yeah, I had a similar approach/idea: We could limit participation in Clash to certain times of the day, making sure that there are always so many participants that it's simply unlikely you will be matched with someone you want to be matched with in order to trade wins. However, that idea has the downside of not considering different lifestyles or "life schedules". In order to group participants densely enough, the time frames to participate in Clash! would have to be rather small. And if players happen to be unable to participate in that time frame, they are screwed. That's not cool.
    Your idea has a similar problem: The waiting time at some times of the day would be insane. Not everyone has that much time. If I come back home after a hard day of work, I don't want to spend hours in a waiting queue, just to be able to play my Clash matches.

  • Easy workaround for cheaters: Just involve a third account.
    We also prevent that? Np, involve a fourth account. And so on..

    Only if they know ... I often worked with tables of limited entries that automatically destroy the oldest entries if new ones come in. So, if that table contains 6 entries, and they don't know of it ... it will work ... and time for progging is less than a day.

    You do not tell about the game innards, so there's also no need to tell about how you put together clash contestants ... as you are able to run several clash games at the same time, just let the cheaters wait.


    Plus: It's just ONE idea, how to react. ONE idea that could be thought about, could be expanded and improved and combined with other simple solutions.


    Also: I cannot really believe in the idea that the suicide players are multi accounts. Those cheaters would have to play clash on two screens with left hand mouse and right hand mouse simultaniously. Some people might be able to do that ... but with that skill, would they play RN?


    I more believe in the idea that the suicidal players are friends, communicating on a working chat system to start clash simultaniously ... much easier to do clash suicide if your other hand does not have the task to win.

    Well, depends. Naikes example is ONE MATCH. Of course we don't make decisions based on individual games, but patterns.

    Well ... patterns ...

    Please don't be angry with me about the following ...

    See, WE play clash for a few hours and as one result we KNOW the names of the cheaters, both, the suicidal avatar and the winner avatar. We happen to watch them 3 times, 10 times or more ... and we KNOW the cheaters, both.


    If you play clash for a few hours, you will miss some hours of your work time, some hours in doing what your company asks you to do. So, you need an automatic system to detect the cheaters, both of them, and to be 100% sure.

    Well, you will be angry about my next words, but let's face it: I trust you. I trust you to develop a bug free, error free, 100% safe pattern detector as much as I trust you to develop a bug free shop, a bug free chat and news system and a bug free game.

    I do not even trust myself about bugs and mistakes ... so whenever I have developed an automatic system like that, I made sure, that any bug in it will NEVER EVER punish an innocent, fair playing player or customer.


    Also: one con against detecting pattern is the time needed for it. At the moment you punish cheaters at the end, after clash is done. But at that point ALL victims of the cheaters have lost points, many points, maybe half of the points they would have achieved on fair played games.

    As many told about clash: punishment must happen IMMEDIATELY ... so the fair players have a chance to get onto that position they deserve.


    And that is, why I think more about cheating out the cheaters immediately than to think about pattern detection, which will better help and should only be used to create more cheater defense for next year's clash event.

    And if players happen to be unable to participate in that time frame, they are screwed. That's not cool.

    The idea to also use time frames for reaction would improve ideas of immediate response. But you are right, RN and especially clash is a "melting pot of people" (why do I imagine my old English teacher now?), we play with different nations, cultures, life styles. Creativity is needed to bring them together and run a fair game. I trust you ... also to have those creative people in your team (and among your customers) who can cooperate to find a way.

    Drei Gruppen sagen immer die Wahrheit:

    1. Kinder 2. Betrunkene 3. Jeder, der verdammt noch mal stinksauer ist.

  • Only if they know

    Yeah, and it's not that hard to figure out. After a few attempts you know whats going on and you adapt.

    I cannot really believe in the idea that the suicide players are multi accounts.

    Did I say they are? I mean, some probably are, but I agree that many of them are not.

    See, WE play clash for a few hours and as one result we KNOW the names of the cheaters, both, the suicidal avatar and the winner avatar. We happen to watch them 3 times, 10 times or more ... and we KNOW the cheaters, both.

    Well, that is pretty much the definition of a pattern. That is precisely what I was talking about. One match...fine, maybe he answered the door. Two games...sure, whatever, might be. 3 games? Suspicious. Etc.

    And exactly like you, we still don't know, we just suspect and are very shure about it. The clearer the pattern, the higher the chance to be right and the lower the chance of false positives.
    But although you wrote it in capslock, by just watching you never KNOW. You suspect.

    So, you need an automatic system to detect the cheaters, both of them, and to be 100% sure. [...]

    I made sure, that any bug in it will NEVER EVER punish an innocent, fair playing player or customer.

    I think you misunderstand the problem of avoiding punishment of innocent players. It's not at all about bugs. It's about the inability of being omiscient. The only way to "NEVER EVER" having false positives when punishing people for intentionally losing is to read their minds. Otherwise you are never actually sure. How would you be sure about someones intentions if you can't read his mind?
    You can be VERY SURE if you wait long enough to see a pattern that can't realistically be explained any other way...but that has the disadvantage of requiring you to wait. While you wait, the cheaters continues to wreak havoc. But if you don't wait that long, your accuracy goes down and you will also punish players who just look like they did it intentionally but are actually innocent.

    So the challenge is not to develop a bug free automation. It's about having absolute knowledge about what's going on in other peoples heads.
    In the past I had the privilege to work with a very big gaming company with virtually unlimited amounts of resources and talent. Their team to tackle this problem is bigger than the entire RN team. They still haven't found a real solution after more than 10 years.

    This is also a central topic in the Fair Play Alliance and last year me and many other members (who are 10 times smarter than me) met at Google in London to discuss this problem (and others). Essentially, all the biggest gaming companies in the world (and a variety of NGOs, universities and even nations) are trying to figure out a way to tackle this general problem of disruptive behavior on the internet. And "intentionally losing" is one of those gaming specific problems where no one has found a real solution yet.

    And that is, why I think more about cheating out the cheaters immediately

    That is a nice and noble goal. But I think figuring out the goal is not the challenge here, as with many other noble goals. The goal is clear. The challenge is to find a way to actually get to said goal. HOW would you do this?
    If you happen to know that way and you figured out how to identify someones intentions with 100% (or at least acceptable) accuracy, let me know.


  • If you happen to know that way and you figured out how to identify someones intentions with 100% (or at least acceptable) accuracy, let me know.

    Well, I can be very (VERY) sure about intentions on eye to eye contact. Which is not possible in the internet (not even with cameras).


    So, I do not even try to find out intentions of others to punish them, I try to avoid punishments by making thinkable and observed intentions impossible to perform. And that was, why I added a suggestion towards a possible solution, not thought to the end, not yet perfect, but that worked for me, when I created games that put competitors together. With that little table (and a few hours of progging), the players could never again predict, in which order they had to apply to be put together in one game.


    Another trick was, that on times with big player load, I kept open 3 or even 5 new games and used a random generator to appoint the applications to one of them ... randomly. Again, just another trick to make it hard for them to predict anything, simple and easy to code.


    The result was: yes we suspected some multies or cheaters and some coordination in taking advantage against solo players ... but they disappeared without taking our time into controversial discussions about fair play or anything.


    Plus: our systems did not do any disadvantage to the fair playing customers, they also always had new competitors, fun and success ... without waiting till the end, if some cheaters would be disqualified.

    So ... well, even if you find cons, my thinking and my ideas go into the direction to avoid additional work at the end, additional corrections for the final results or even the feeling of the fair players, that they are cheated every other game.


    It is something I took over from business progging to game progging. You always have to fight the hackers, the intruders, the data miners, the cheaters ... and the best way is NOT to wait for their next better action and try to react ... but to take a few minutes to think like them and proactively add a little bit that destroys their hopes. It's somehow like a war ... which you can win, if you think before they try something new.

    Or, in other words ... if my creative team is able to change their own patterns quicker than the other side does with their patterns, customers will be happy about fair play.


    How about thinking (a little bit only) in that direction, before next years clash starts?

    Drei Gruppen sagen immer die Wahrheit:

    1. Kinder 2. Betrunkene 3. Jeder, der verdammt noch mal stinksauer ist.

  • Klabbauter

    I agree with your proposal.

    I like it.

    I'm afraid it will make it impossible to play most of the time.

    Even now, in such periods, it is difficult to find opponents.

    With this proposal it will be practically impossible.

    It bothers me.

  • The problem is not players losing intentionally.

    The problem is that these players are (in 99% of the cases) multi's.

    By suiciding they let their real account win.

    The losing account should be banned for being a multi (not because they intentionally lost),

    and the real (winning) account should be banned as well!


    This should be very easy to look in to, with your 'tools' or just by looking at how many times those two accounts have been in the same match together. If it's more than once and if one of then suicides every time on the 3rd player, it's pretty clear what is going on.

    I have encountered this so many time already, it's really not funny anymore. It's time to do something about it

    (for the solution, read above).

    If it ain't Dutch, it ain't much!

  • I'm afraid it will make it impossible to play most of the time.

    You make a point. Yes, my ideas need a number of players that allow to wait for the next game without too much noticing that longer wait time.

    If customer count decreases, you are totally right.


    However, generally, brainstorming might help to work on a first idea and transform it into something that also works on times with low customer count.


    Because, though that contradicts to many others, my goal is, NOT to punish and ban cheaters after times of investigation and pattern checks, but to make the game more clever, so that cheating becomes boring. Because (apart from knowing some hackers and cheaters and their way of thinking), we all know, that laws and punishments do not keep wrongdoers away ... but shutting up our doors keeps (part of) the thieves away.

    Wrongdoers, multis and cheaters think that they are more clever than the fair players and the game developers. So my thinking goes into the direction to make the game more clever than the cheaters.

    At the moment cheater can rely on getting together in one game, by applying at the same time. My idea (which is not yet perfect) is to keep that door shut, in a clever way ... immediately, not after all the games are done.


    My hope is, that some of the developers of the game can find the little light within my ideas that enables them to use them together with their much better knowledge of the code and the database.

    Drei Gruppen sagen immer die Wahrheit:

    1. Kinder 2. Betrunkene 3. Jeder, der verdammt noch mal stinksauer ist.

  • Very diplomatic of you ;)

  • Two thoughts.

    First, when we talk about punitive action it is always a concern that things may be taken too far. For example, I just wrapped up my five rounds of clash, won one or two of those rounds and took second place in the rest. The last two rounds were interesting because one of those guys I played in both of those rounds. In the first round the third player, who turned out to be pretty good, was away from the keys at the start leaving the me and the other guy to duke things out. By the time the third play came back I was up four or five to zero because I was able to use the map to cut the other guys line and made better choices. The game ended with me at ten, and the next guy around 3 points, and one or two points for the last place player. On the next round we had a new third player but I was able to eek out a nice lead once again and this left the player whom I had just played the last round with in third place. Since I was about to win he cut my line, then suicided me at restart and the other guy won. I highly doubt this was cheating. It was a poor loser but not a cheater. This was someone who simply was frustrated for being out played. While I don't like it, particularly since it cost me a win by a single point, this guy should not be punished. That is simply life.


    The second thought would be a review of the players that seem to win almost all the games by their numbers. It would be very interesting to know who is playing on "off" times. As Dutcher pointed out they very well could be playing alts or even friends, and they don't have to play the same person twice.

  • So, I do not even try to find out intentions of others to punish them, I try to avoid punishments by making thinkable and observed intentions impossible to perform

    Yeah, that is in general the most effective approach to prevent cheating: Don't make it possible in the first place.


    Your thoughts about this are far from uncommon or unusual, it's essentially the basic idea of the "player dynamics" mindset: Make bad interactions impossible/unattractive by design.


    But as I wrote before: That's a goal. A very good goal, no doubt. But finding a goal is not the hard part. There is no need to discuss about that goal, we already agree on it 100%. We should leave the clouds of ideology and goals but get down to earth instead, discussing how to actually reach those goals.

    So my question to you is: How would you actually reach this goal? Not in some other game or in general, but specifically in the actual game Clash! in Rail Nation.
    This is the kind of discussion we need to have if we actually want to address the problem. I really enjoy the fact that we apparently share the same mindset concerning fighting cheaters, but it doesn't really bring us any closer to an actual solution for Clash!, doesn't it?
    Real world problems require real world solutions, so let us talk about those.


  • This should be very easy to look in to, with your 'tools' or just by looking at how many times those two accounts have been in the same match together. If it's more than once and if one of then suicides every time on the 3rd player, it's pretty clear what is going on.

    For obvious reasons I can not get into details, but our solution is pretty similar and even a bit more sophisticated.

    There are three reasons why this isn't a holistic solution:
    1) Family & friends. It's pretty common that players try to be matched with people they know. Just being matched with someone frequently is not an unusual pattern that identifies cheaters. Also, given the skill difference, frequently losing to the same person is also very unusual. A prime example would be me. I simply suck in Clash!, I lose a lot. Often to my colleagues. So my pattern essentially also looks a bit like a cheater.
    2) Frequency. It's not like all cheaters cheat all the time. Most of them just cheat sometimes. This also makes them very similar to normal players mentioned in the first point.

    3) Cheaters are smart, at least some of them. If radical behavior (like winning ALL THE TIME against the same person) gets you banned, they adapt and simply behave less obvious.

  • Klabbauter

    I completely agree with the principles.

    Your idea is great.

    But I think we are facing the problem of few active players.


    To make the strategy of such players successful.

    They use the time when there are few players in the game.

    For example 3-4 players.

    If players are prevented from playing repeat games (with the same players).

    This will make it very difficult for such bad practices.

    But it will also make it impossible for many honest players to play.


    This idea is successful when there are a sufficient number of active players.

    But just then these bad practices are ineffective and not used.

    These bad practices are used when there are a small number of active players. But then this idea does not work.


    So. we need a similar idea that works with few active players.

    Unfortunately, I have no such idea.

    Unless bots are included in the game. But that will call into question honesty.


    Salix

    I suggest that after each game played, players be able to alert other players to bad behavior.

    This can help detect bad players earlier.

    But it won't help much :(

  • I suggest that after each game played, players be able to alert other players to bad behavior.

    This can help detect bad players earlier.

    That doesn't change the fact though that we still need to use the same methods we are already using to evaluate the report. Given the fact that a player needs to make a decision (report or don't report) based on just ONE MATCH, these reports will be wildy inaccurate, because players who fail in one match for whatever reason will be reported just as much as actual cheaters.
    Just because a player reports someone this doesn't make the accused player any more guilty.


    So essentially, this doesn't make anything better, it just puts in an extra step.

  • This is only additional information that can be a preliminary indication.

    You need to gather information from many matches played.

    If many complaints are filed against one player by different players.

    The behavior of this player can begin to be monitored purposefully.

    And if the irregularities are proven it can help to ban before to complete all the games.

    This can help eliminate the most careless intruders.