Cheating

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An Exploit is action taken by the player to avoid negative effects or milk positive effects by taking advantage of quirks, oversights, and outright bugs. Using Exploits is generally considered [[cheating]].
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An exploit is action taken by the player to avoid negative effects or milk positive effects by taking advantage of quirks, oversights, and outright bugs. Using Exploits is generally considered cheating.
  
; See also
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==Level scumming==
[[:Category:Exploits]]
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Level scumming is an exploit which occurs in games featuring [[non-persistent dungeons]]. The exploiting player climbs and descends stairs repeatedly (generating a new level each time) until they come upon conditions which are satisfying.
  
[[Category:Exploits]]
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This exploit is even more abusive in a game that features [[level feelings]].
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==Pillar dancing==
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The act of moving around a piece of unwalkable terrain, preferably a 1x1 'pillar' of rock, such that an opponent is forced to chase you round and round, so that they (hopefully) never get a chance to actually attack.
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Since in many [[Roguelike]]s resources like [[Hitpoints]] and [[Mana]] recharge slowly over time, the idea is to delay an attack until the character has hitpoints to survive at least one attack and/or enough mana to cast one spell. (If the opponent is still alive at this point, one generally returns to pillar dancing.)
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==Stair dancing==
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Stair dancing is similar to [[Pillar dancing]], in that the player uses the stairs to evade monsters in the dungeon. In games with [[persistent]] levels, the [[PC]] can be fighting an enemy, become badly wounded, then run up the nearest stairs. Since in most roguelikes, the [[PC]] is the only entity that can use the stairs, the enemy cannot follow. The [[PC]] then can heal and return to battle the injured enemy. This process can be repeated until the enemy is dead. The effect on game balance is that a monster that would normally be very dangerous for the player, is not very dangerous at all when encountered near stairs.
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==Save scumming==
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"Save scumming" is an exploit which occurs in games that let the user save the game for later play. By creating a copy of a saved game, the player creates a state to which they can return to at any time.
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The term "scumming" is derived from the process of repeated removing the "scum" or surface debris on a liquid in order to obtain a purified substance. Thus it is used to mean repeated activities in order to obtain the "good stuff". There are various forms of "scumming" possible within various roguelikes, some of which are trivial and some of which are quite cheesy and some of which are blatantly abusive of game mechanics. However, none of these activities is cheating, since the rules of the game allow them.
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"Save scumming" or "save file scumming" is keeping a copy of the save file and restoring it in order to undo an undesired result inside the game and redo events in order to get a desired result. This goes outside the rules of the game and is clearly cheating. True "save file scumming" involves things like repeatedly killing a [[unique]] in [[Angband]] or one of its variants in order to get a great drop or redoing fights with a tough opponent until you come out with a minimum of expendible resources used up. Anything that you can "reroll" by redoing slightly differently can be scummed in this way.
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"Save scumming" is also used, rather incorrectly (as this is not typically a "scumming" type activity -- but perhaps there is some hesitation to call cheating by its proper name) to using save file restoration to evade [[permadeath]], a standard [[Roguelike game]] feature. This will let the player try something potentially dangerous with no risk. Stand and fight a dragon that can instakill you if it breathes in the first three rounds of combat -- if you die, just restore and try again. Play carelessly, do something stupid and die -- restore and avoid your mistake. While one can cheat death in a scummish manner, tediously trying over and over to get a series of lucky criticals to take out a tough monster, it is much more typically done to undo mistakes made during play in order to not restart with a new character.
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Someone who choses to cheat at a single-player game is doing no harm, except perhaps to himself, so as long as you don't post a victory post with a character who used save file abuse or add it to a shared high score list, nobody much cares, except for the sake of the cheater. Generally speaking, lessons stick better when they have consequences. You become a better RL player by making mistakes, dying, and *not repeating the mistake*. Cheating your way around the consequences slows learning. On the other hand, in addition to playing technique, there is a learning curve for what items and monsters you encounter in a game and some have said that save file abusing their way to a first "victory" in order to preview the late game was helpful in eventually achieving a real win.
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=== Counter-measures ===
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* Do not let the player have control of the saved games (have the player connect to a games server, for example).
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* Unless you require the player to play on a server you control, it is pretty much impossible to prevent save file abuse, so it is widely considered a waste of time to spend much effort on technological solutions. There is, however, a less coercive alternative: persuasion. A good, clear explanation of why you actually die when killed in the game ought to be in the basic game manual. Instead of trying to prevent a replacement savefile from being used, why not just detect it and issue a warning that doing so for reasons other than a game crash/power failure is cheating? If someone wants to cheat, you aren't going to stop him, but you can try to make him actually think about and decide if he really wants to.
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==Farming==
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'''Farming''' is an exploit, specifically, the repetitive killing of monsters which present little or no challenge to the player for the purpose of earning experience and winning treasure (at no risk).
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 +
Farming is widely considered to be abusive play as it upsets the game balance if players can get items and experience for free.
 +
 
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Games with [[non-persistent]] levels or games that feature self-reproducing monsters are most susceptible to farming. Perhaps the quintessential example is worm-farming in [[Angband]]. Angband features a catagory of monsters known as "worm masses" which will divide to create more worms. A high level player surrounded by worms can level up ''ad infinitum'' by placing a marble on one of the arrow keys of his keyboard, causing the [[Player Character|PC]] to continually attack the masses, and come back several hours later to find his character seriously leveled up.
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=== Countermeasures ===
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Some of the more common countermeasures developers implement to prevent or discourage farming:
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* Grant little or no experience when the level difference between the PC and a monster is larger than some threshold
 +
* Grant experience only for the first N monsters of one type that a player kills
 +
* Make dungeon trips one way (all stairs go down - no way revisit ealier levels)
 +
* Detect farming behavior directly and punish the player through divine retribution
 +
* Disallow infinitely reproducing monsters
 +
* Disallow [[stair dancing]] by limiting the frequency a player may use a set of stairs
 +
* Use [[persistent dungeon]]s
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* Do not use a conventional [[level]]-based system

Revision as of 05:49, 21 September 2006

An exploit is action taken by the player to avoid negative effects or milk positive effects by taking advantage of quirks, oversights, and outright bugs. Using Exploits is generally considered cheating.

Contents

Level scumming

Level scumming is an exploit which occurs in games featuring non-persistent dungeons. The exploiting player climbs and descends stairs repeatedly (generating a new level each time) until they come upon conditions which are satisfying.

This exploit is even more abusive in a game that features level feelings.

Pillar dancing

The act of moving around a piece of unwalkable terrain, preferably a 1x1 'pillar' of rock, such that an opponent is forced to chase you round and round, so that they (hopefully) never get a chance to actually attack.

Since in many Roguelikes resources like Hitpoints and Mana recharge slowly over time, the idea is to delay an attack until the character has hitpoints to survive at least one attack and/or enough mana to cast one spell. (If the opponent is still alive at this point, one generally returns to pillar dancing.)

Stair dancing

Stair dancing is similar to Pillar dancing, in that the player uses the stairs to evade monsters in the dungeon. In games with persistent levels, the PC can be fighting an enemy, become badly wounded, then run up the nearest stairs. Since in most roguelikes, the PC is the only entity that can use the stairs, the enemy cannot follow. The PC then can heal and return to battle the injured enemy. This process can be repeated until the enemy is dead. The effect on game balance is that a monster that would normally be very dangerous for the player, is not very dangerous at all when encountered near stairs.

Save scumming

"Save scumming" is an exploit which occurs in games that let the user save the game for later play. By creating a copy of a saved game, the player creates a state to which they can return to at any time.

The term "scumming" is derived from the process of repeated removing the "scum" or surface debris on a liquid in order to obtain a purified substance. Thus it is used to mean repeated activities in order to obtain the "good stuff". There are various forms of "scumming" possible within various roguelikes, some of which are trivial and some of which are quite cheesy and some of which are blatantly abusive of game mechanics. However, none of these activities is cheating, since the rules of the game allow them.

"Save scumming" or "save file scumming" is keeping a copy of the save file and restoring it in order to undo an undesired result inside the game and redo events in order to get a desired result. This goes outside the rules of the game and is clearly cheating. True "save file scumming" involves things like repeatedly killing a unique in Angband or one of its variants in order to get a great drop or redoing fights with a tough opponent until you come out with a minimum of expendible resources used up. Anything that you can "reroll" by redoing slightly differently can be scummed in this way.

"Save scumming" is also used, rather incorrectly (as this is not typically a "scumming" type activity -- but perhaps there is some hesitation to call cheating by its proper name) to using save file restoration to evade permadeath, a standard Roguelike game feature. This will let the player try something potentially dangerous with no risk. Stand and fight a dragon that can instakill you if it breathes in the first three rounds of combat -- if you die, just restore and try again. Play carelessly, do something stupid and die -- restore and avoid your mistake. While one can cheat death in a scummish manner, tediously trying over and over to get a series of lucky criticals to take out a tough monster, it is much more typically done to undo mistakes made during play in order to not restart with a new character.

Someone who choses to cheat at a single-player game is doing no harm, except perhaps to himself, so as long as you don't post a victory post with a character who used save file abuse or add it to a shared high score list, nobody much cares, except for the sake of the cheater. Generally speaking, lessons stick better when they have consequences. You become a better RL player by making mistakes, dying, and *not repeating the mistake*. Cheating your way around the consequences slows learning. On the other hand, in addition to playing technique, there is a learning curve for what items and monsters you encounter in a game and some have said that save file abusing their way to a first "victory" in order to preview the late game was helpful in eventually achieving a real win.

Counter-measures

  • Do not let the player have control of the saved games (have the player connect to a games server, for example).
  • Unless you require the player to play on a server you control, it is pretty much impossible to prevent save file abuse, so it is widely considered a waste of time to spend much effort on technological solutions. There is, however, a less coercive alternative: persuasion. A good, clear explanation of why you actually die when killed in the game ought to be in the basic game manual. Instead of trying to prevent a replacement savefile from being used, why not just detect it and issue a warning that doing so for reasons other than a game crash/power failure is cheating? If someone wants to cheat, you aren't going to stop him, but you can try to make him actually think about and decide if he really wants to.

Farming

Farming is an exploit, specifically, the repetitive killing of monsters which present little or no challenge to the player for the purpose of earning experience and winning treasure (at no risk).

Farming is widely considered to be abusive play as it upsets the game balance if players can get items and experience for free.

Games with non-persistent levels or games that feature self-reproducing monsters are most susceptible to farming. Perhaps the quintessential example is worm-farming in Angband. Angband features a catagory of monsters known as "worm masses" which will divide to create more worms. A high level player surrounded by worms can level up ad infinitum by placing a marble on one of the arrow keys of his keyboard, causing the PC to continually attack the masses, and come back several hours later to find his character seriously leveled up.

Countermeasures

Some of the more common countermeasures developers implement to prevent or discourage farming:

  • Grant little or no experience when the level difference between the PC and a monster is larger than some threshold
  • Grant experience only for the first N monsters of one type that a player kills
  • Make dungeon trips one way (all stairs go down - no way revisit ealier levels)
  • Detect farming behavior directly and punish the player through divine retribution
  • Disallow infinitely reproducing monsters
  • Disallow stair dancing by limiting the frequency a player may use a set of stairs
  • Use persistent dungeons
  • Do not use a conventional level-based system
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