Law and Idler: My Take

Discussion in 'Team Fortress 2 Talk' started by Midel, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. Midel

    Midel L1: Registered

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    My Take on the Idle User Punishment and Drop System

    Pre-read Notes:
    My Problem with The Drop System
    The Team Fortress 2 drop system is a simple idea in which at a interval during a users gameplay VALVe's master servers will randomly give said user an unlockable/achievable item. This item is given as a free service to all those who purchased Team Fortress 2 and has no actual financial value or cost to the end user besides the initial purchase of the game. The drop system was VALVe's design for allowing newbie players to the Free Weekends, offered every large class update, to receive items and not feel discouraged due to the previous system. (The previous system use the achievement progress in which after doing a series of challenging feats, pertaining to a specific class, the user would be rewarded with a unlockable weapon which could be equipped to the class the achievements were unlocked on.)

    A recent update to this drop system allows the achieving of decorative hats for each of the current 9 classes. These hats are rare in chance and only a few users have gained these collectible novelties. Complaints arose from the community about the drop system. (Originally this system gave only items that an user didn't already own to eventually dropping repeats of previously achieved items.)

    In my opinion the drop system is useful in giving users a sudden gift or prize after many hours of playing the game. Yet, due to the rare chance of gaining the desired head wear, many users are discouraged in playing the game. This is caused by the other users whom receive items more frequently even regardless of playtime.

    I would like to now note on the recent appearance and use of idler programs. The program allows users to appear to VALVe master servers as if the end user is playing a game of Team Fortress 2. It increases the amount of hours a user has played but is noted to not have a significant effect on the amount of items dropped or the rate in which hats are gained.

    This comes to me as a direct result of poor communication between supplier and consumer. I would like to think of this as a failure on both VALVe and the end users part. The program should be taken as a important message of unhappiness with the drop system and the distribution of hats and other future collectibles. VALVe's fault lies with the lack of action against the use of idler programs and the means to find and utilize an effective solution.

    Of course the major flaw in any solution is that it can not satisfy all of the end users of the product. It is simply impossible.
    My suggestion is to provide users with some sort of consolation item that can be easily distributed and is already implemented within the game. I am refering to the Team Fortress Forced Birthday Mode hat. A simple and non-intrusive party hat. This can be easily give and distributed to all users and anyone could get them with a simple console command enabled on the server. My proposal is to offer all users this party hat as a easily equip-able hat to any of the 9 classes. The hat will take up a slot in anyone's inventory and will use the HEAD equip-able slot of all classes.

    I make this suggestion not only as a easy hat for all users but even usable as a punishment for all abusers of idler programs. I simply suggest the changing of all idler gained items into the party hat. All items transformed could include a witty or humorous expression common to novelty shirts such as "I idled all night and day and all I got was a simple party hat."

    This of course is not a solution to the drop system overall. I refuse to recommend increasing the rate of rare chance because it would defeat the purpose of the hats. The purpose I define as "A decorative item to create uniqueness among Team Fortress players which has no effect to skill or class abilities; it is purely cosmetic in nature and is a gift to players. It is a goal for all users to achieve that depends not on skill yet on enjoyment." Any change I recommend to the drop system is that the system becomes more balanced in the items dropped between players overall.

    I recommend however that the system be tuned more over that the longer you play equals a smaller chance for receiving an item overall. The system I suggest is that doing more hours should not equal a multiple of items. A user who can get on only 2 hours a day and a user who can be on for 10 plus hours should be given the same chance. I state that the system should lower chance overall for a drop the longer a user plays.

    My example is that after an initial 30 minutes the system can begin to drop items at any percent. After any drop the system waits another amount of undetermined time which will be proportionally larger than the original 30 minutes and the chance to receive an item of any kind will be lowered in percentage. This should be in effect on all users on a period of 24 hours. After 24 hours if the user has not received any new items the system resets the time and the initial percentage. These values can be change for a more efficient system.


    I hope to add more to this post or thread at a later date in time.

    Thank you for reading. Midel AKA "Flapjack"
     
  2. Ravidge

    aa Ravidge Grand Vizier

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    My thoughts (in no particular order) on any hat related topic:

    • Hats are meaningless decoration, they don't provide anything to the user.
    • People see other players with (a/multiple) hat(s) and get jealous for no good reason.
    • Since you can't see your own hat, looking at players with the hats is actually more rewarding than having it yourself. (unless you happen to love taunting yourself in the spawnroom over and over... go be useful)
    • They are cool.
    • Actually getting a hat is very fun because you feel like a winner in a lottery.
    • They are not a factor in gameplay.
    • I find hat-rage discussions hilarious because I can't make sense of them, or the arguments.
    • Item collecting is not the focus of tf2, idling just make you look like you've completely missed the point.

    These are not facts, just my opinions!
    I look at hats when I play, and wear them to show others, that's it.
    (problem is I only have the spy hat, a class I never play)
     
  3. Nerdbot

    Nerdbot L7: Fancy Member

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    All it is is a minor inconvenience, and idler servers will be on the rise again.

    Valve can patch up their system in any way they want, but all they're doing is trying plugging a leak in a dam. I refuse to take this seriously unless Valve has a solution for idler servers, too. Oh wait, they don't, and they can't until they fix their system up majorly.

    I love them, but they have a real way of not only doing completely impractical things, but taking the hard way over the easy way, and there's no real reason to. The only thing this change does is give people who didn't use the idler the mentality that they can flaunt superiority all over everyone.

    There were better ways to solve the simple problem of idler use WITHOUT having to do a major retooling of the system. This is just a mess now.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2009
  4. Terr

    aa Terr Cranky Coder

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    Evan7: It's certainly possible for Valve to get a decent 80/20 solution which stops 80% of the idlers and reduces the raw amount the 20% do. Remember the servers faking tags? All they have to do is go after the people who are "playing" the game for over twelve hours a day on average, but don't tell anyone what the actual limit is and maintain a small appeals system.

    Then step back and let paranoia and basic social enforcement do the rest.

    I get a little nervous when people start talking about the "simple solution" and the "easy way", because sometimes they then go into "go back to how it was before". That's not "the easy way", that's "cancel the project and abandon your goals".

    Ex: "Why the heck is the government spending all that money on people who've committed crimes? They're making this too hard on themselves with an unworkable system. They should just do it the easy way and execute or free them all."
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2009
  5. Nerdbot

    Nerdbot L7: Fancy Member

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    No, I don't think we should go back to how this was before--I think the whole item system is just silly. Aside from the fact that it works horribly, it's always bugged me that there's no real in-game context for the item obtainment, they literally just fall from the heavens into your lap. It really contradicts the entirety of how everything else with TF2 works. I have a friend who was new to TF2 who was so utterly confused by the fact that he just got a Backburner from nowhere, he thought it was pretty stupid. The item system serves to help new players, but I think all it really does is confuse them. "Why did I get this? What did I do for it?" "Nothing. It just happens."

    If they go after people who play TF2 a lot, though, they're going to inevitably end up attacking someone who legitimately played all those hours. There's just no real way to solve this that I can see, but if there is I do hope Valve will do it. Just because they can stop 80% of idling doesn't mean the last 20% should just be allowed to slide. Valve will probably just turn their heads away from achievement_idle servers and continue working with a flawed system. Valve acts like trading will solve everything, but it really won't. The hat drop rates are still ridiculous, and people will still idle--either everything is cheating or it's not. Just because that 80% is gone doesn't mean they should leave the last 20% hanging around. I want this system completely changed altogether.

    And for the record, I used the idler, but ironically three out of my four hats were all obtained in-game. Two were obtained before I ever used the idler. The game probably wouldn't have even bothered rolling for the third of those hats if I hadn't spent my time in the idler, though, if my admittingly poor grasp of how the system works is correct. If I lose that Otolaryngologist's Mirror from the idler--oh well! I'm not angry about that--I just dislike Valve's methods here immensely.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2009
  6. Fraz

    aa Fraz Blu Hatte, Greyscale Backdrop.

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    The idle program works via a non VAC server, correct? To stop this happening, make it so that non-VAC secure server's can't gain items of any sort. No more idlers, more people playing the game, and getting items legit. It's the best solution imo. Also, it would be nice if it could "check" if a player who already has a hat, and gives the hats to those less fortunate. There is a 1/27 chance that it will be the hat they /really/ want. It would stop the jealousy and raging over hats imho.
     
  7. Terr

    aa Terr Cranky Coder

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    Sure, there might be a guy who legitimately played an average of >8 hours for the last seven days straight. Or two. On the continent...

    Yeah, but your standard seems to be for crystal-perfect justice of a kind that we don't even have for people who cheat with aimbots and wallhacks.

    There will either be more false-positives, or more false-negatives. Pick your poison, but you can't zero them both out.

    So if a bank-robber finally hits it big at the casinos the one time he was using his own money... :p
     
  8. Nerdbot

    Nerdbot L7: Fancy Member

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    This is true, yes, that the chances are ridiculously low. But it's still big enough that they can't really enforce something like that.

    All they had to do was make it so Spectators couldn't obtain items and then it'd at least seem like they were TRYING to end idling altogether. It just seems like they're completely turning a blind-eye towards idling outside of use of the program, and that's what bugs me. I understand they can't stop this practice altogether, but they could at least give us reasons to not want to do that--achievement_idle would stay, sure, but not without the cost of a shitton of time added to a certain class's stats if spectators couldn't get items. That would be enough to discourage me, at least.

    Ha ha. I'm just saying--I have used the idler, yes, I don't want to be lying here, but if Valve had at least enforced some sort of action to show they were against idling entirely, instead of just singling out one form of it, I would accept that what I've done was considered "cheating".

    But I meant to use that as an example of why this is a little silly, as well--from my own understanding (and please, do correct me if I'm wrong) the game rolls for hats after a certain amount of playtime. I got a hat in-game, so if Valve somehow can tell the difference between idler-gained items and in-game items and can seek those out and delete them, that hat would stay. BUT if the game rolls for a hat after a certain time, I wouldn't have gotten that hat without having spent time in the idler, which brought me closer to the hat roll.

    So then, my Otolaryngologist's Mirror and my Demoman's Fro might have been obtained in the idler and in the game respectively, but technically they're both still illegitimately obtained, no? I admit that trying to enforce something to do something about this would be pretty dumb, but I'm just saying...