Ping After Death - Could be Removed

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The FAF administration is planning to remove the ability of players to "ping" their teammates after their ACU dies:

@snagglefox said in Questions about performance:

Pinging after dying is disabled because of a potential exploit. For more information, read this PR: https://github.com/FAForever/fa/issues/2259

The "exploit" in question is:

Observers can use the "setarmyview" command to go from obs to an army view and then write messages and set map markers
that should not be possible since observers can see the entire map and thus can give vital information that might not be available otherwise

These OBSERVERS are people who were allowed by the host to observe the match. To be an observer, you need permission from the host (who can turn observers on/off)

These observers can ALREADY cheat. The easiest way to cheat would be for observers to be on voice chat with one of the players. Cheating that way is basically undetectable. Even having a referee in the same room as the player wouldn't pick up this cheating if the player was wearing headphones. It's basically impossible to stop.

IF an observer cheated using this method, by placing map markers for one team only, that would show up in the replay file. Cheating this way would leave a PERMANENT RECORD, easily verifiable, that the admins could use to instantly permanently ban the cheater. This permanent record would be part of every player's local replay file, including the team that was victimized by the cheating. Anyone who watched the replay could see that cheating happened and exactly what the cheating was and who did it.

The "problem" that they are trying to solve is not a problem in the first place: observers can already cheat in a way that is undetectable, so why do we need to ban a method of cheating that would leave evidence?

Now let's talk about the COST of imposing this fix: taking away the ability of "dead" players to participate in the match by giving helpful pings to their teammates. Why would you want to take that away from people? It's one of the ways that people cooperate and communicate. People who otherwise can't participate in the match are about to contribute something. It's hard enough to play when you are outnumbered by the other team. Being able to receive pings from your teammates can make a huge difference. It's something all of the players (with living or dead ACUs) want. If those players leave, they aren't even allowed to queue for ladder or TMM until the match ends. We gain nothing from tying their hands. It just makes the game worse.

The "problem" is not a problem at all. It's an interesting technical glitch that has no real-world consequences. It is an exploit that is useless to cheaters because it leaves complete evidence. The fix, on the other hand, is a HUGE PROBLEM. This fix is already part of the "FAF Develop" branch. I'm writing this to bring attention to this "fix" so we can prevent it from ever getting into the game.

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You have a weird view on "the FAF administration". It's the game development team (that everybody is allowed to join) with @keyser as it's leader.

"Nerds have a really complicated relationship with change: Change is awesome when WE'RE the ones doing it. As soon as change is coming from outside of us it becomes untrustworthy and it threatens what we think of is the familiar."
– Benno Rice

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With SSB enabled you can see the name of who did the ping. If I'd use this exploit after dying then I can switch armies and make pings for another player - and everyone with SSB enabled would think it is that player that is doing the pinging / harassment.

Therefore another problem is that you can ping in the name of someone else - allowing you to harass someone without making it evident for the moderator team who really did the harassing. This works both ways: an observer can do the pinging and claim it was the player who was alive, or, a player that is alive can suddenly start pinging like a madman and claim it was the observer who recently died.

And last but not least - we're not the devil here. If the majority of the community thinks this fix isn't worth it then I'm sure we can revert it because in the end we're part of that same community. And we're doing all of this together.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

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Dead players can still communicate by typing in team chat though can't they? So it's not as if dead players cannot contribute.

Kill the acu, nothing else matters

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So, I just want to make this clear. When we say observers, we are also referring to dead team mates correct? Not just observers who joined the game as observers?

If that's the case, where dead players can apparently switch army views and get info they shouldn't, then yea that's not such a great exploit to have around. On the other hand, if it's just actual observers, not dead players, then I don't think the fix is worth it. Most lobbies have observers off anyway.

Even if it is dead players, I'm not sure it's worth it either. I've never heard of this exploit being used, but obviously that's just anecdotal from several hundred games, not several thousand like some people. I personally like my dead teammates being able to ping (unless you're a certain annoying someone, I won't name names >_>). I find it much more helpful than talking in chat which is easily missed. I mean, pings exist over chat for a reason right?

So IMO the fix isn't worth the loss of functionality given to dead teammates, unless the dev team has info we do not that the exploit is actively being abused. If it is, I'd understand the fix.

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So, I just want to make this clear. When we say observers, we are also referring to dead team mates correct? Not just observers who joined the game as observers?

Yes.

_If that's the case, where dead players can apparently switch army views and get info they shouldn't, then yea that's not such a great exploit to have around. _

This change doesn't prevent that - it prevents them from being able to ping.

With that said, I'm holding off further posting until Keyser made his post about this.

A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned

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I haven't really understood if this applies to games with observers off (i.e. most of the games) at all.

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Would be a great change if obs-off games (the standard setting) would mute teammates after they die - everyone who played Sentons will agree

Ban Anime

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@blackheart Except I don't agree. I do appreciate dead teammates sticking around and helping, sometimes. Other times you get people who just like to spam.

I know it's probably not feasible right now, but would making this option be viable? Maybe a separate option from allowing observers?

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I like being able to ping teammates (helpfully) after dying. I also like being able to receive pings from dead teammates who are trying to help. I'd prefer not to lose this feature... Many setoners and others share that stance; there is substantial opposition to removing this feature.

Furthermore, if the purpose of removing dead players' ability to ping is supposed to prevent cheating, it doesn't even accomplish that if people can easily still communicate to teammates through text or voice chat.

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I liked the fact you could ping after death. It meant you could still help your team even after you were dead. You could look for ACUs and watch for enemy positions. It made watching the game so much more enjoyable after you had died.

If there is no other way to fix this, then I guess that it has to be done 😞

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We must absolutely keep pings after death.

If it really is such a problem can't we simply not kill dead players? If ACU is killed then either kill (share until death) or give away (full share) all units and make it impossible to receive units.

Now dead player is not an observer but still dead.

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I think this situation is pretty bad:

  1. Now even more people know that you can cheat this way (I didn't). Now that it is publicly available, it's safe to assume that everyone will abuse it (or try to).

  2. This just takes away a feature without even fixing the bug/exploit. If this can't be fixed, there MUST be a workaround, going as far as kicking out dead players if it comes to it.

To be clear, I am not saying that making this exploit known was a mistake, but a real solution must be found, not something that will take away a feature that many enjoyed while doing nothing to prevent anyone that wants to cheat from doing it.

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I’m going to make a larger statement on this when I have time to digest responses, reactions.

Let me add one thing to the mix which has driven my interest: how to handle observers during competitive team game tournaments that are casted live with observers enabled.

During FAF events where games are broadcast, you have to leave observers enabled so that the casters can watch the game from the beginning. That’s fine as they will obviously not be cheating, but what about players who die and join them? They can clearly use this exploit.

As stated by arma already and myself to the devs, most people will be in a voice chat, can message each other through the client, so where is the fix in this case?

I’m in current thinking it’s a small bandaid on a problem rooted to the game, which we can not alter as we don’t have the source code. You cannot take away console commands with the FAF modification…

So here is my plan going forward:

  1. Continues listening to feedback in this thread and take it into account.

  2. Determine if there’s a way to enable “tournament mode” where pings are disabled to discourage cheating during live casting.

  3. Assume that players will acknowledge hosting games with observers enabled runs the risk of cheating being possible. We all have shown that the intended use to assist teammates exist, and gives merit to keeping the feature.

Please let me know if anyone needs to get an explanation in regards to anything I stated here, and again, please know I have no official stance quite yet. These are my thoughts in process. We have discovered that Supreme Scoreboard Modification alters the behavior, so more research is needed. @Sheikah and I discovered this during evaluation.

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@valki You are a genius. Sounds like a great workaround to me.

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Let's screw 99% of games for this, not a good idea

Come up with a different fix

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@morax Tournament mode would be a nice addition in many ways. But I already see half of the tournament games hosted in standard, cause people are unaware/ asleep/ lazy.

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Please don’t take away ability for pings. I am rarely in voice chat nor do I want to be and pings make noise and don’t have a language barrier unlike chat.

put the xbox units in the game pls u_u

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After reading the comments and discussing with people in private I think it seems quite clear that you can still “cheat” outside of the game using client chat or voice. Since this solution will remove what is supposed to be s a helpful feature, I’m inclined to say this update should be rejected.

Anyone else have a say in the matter?

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I sincerely think disabling pings & markers for dead players should not be done. There are so many other avenues to cheat in terms of what the change is trying to "fix" if observers are on, not to mention by having observers on in the first place you knowingly open that box anyway and risk players leaking information about the game.

To be honest this change feels quite absurd to me and I'm amazed it even progressed so far that it is live in fafdevelop now. The pros for the change are almost negligible, meanwhile removing pinging and helping your teammates once dead is a core feature of the game supcom players and the community have used every day for years and years now.