Elite Dangerous denies player allegation that it’s not addressing combat logging exploits

    
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Most online games have rules governing running from a fight, abandoning a team, or exiting the game to avoid gameplay, be they MMORPGs or shooters or MOBAs. You’ll get smacked with some sort of penalty or timeout, at minimum – if you didn’t, why, you’d just quit out every time you were losing a fight.

In Elite Dangerous, that practice is called combat logging, particularly when you’re using dodgy means to achieve it, and it’s been a subject of contention in the game since at least 2016, when we first covered it. Back then, players were accusing Frontier of not doing enough to prevent and punish what both saw as an exploit of the game’s mechanics.

Turns out that accusation is alive and well in 2018. Players have posted on Reddit and the official forums a summary of what they say is their latest investigation into Frontier’s investigation. This time around, they used an alt to combat log in the middle of fights with multiple other players, complete with video and in-game reporting, over a span of five months. According to the players, Frontier didn’t punish the account for any of the incidents.

For its part, Frontier has once again asserted that its review team is on top of this and that indeed, the reports on that account were viewed.

“A huge number of factors go into reviewing each report and I can personally confirm, having been a part of the team that reviews these reports, that action is taken on a regular basis. However, we do not discuss the process, tools or systems for detection publically, as doing so would help people avoid detection.

“While we understand the frustration caused when met with combat logging, continuous attempts at uncovering our investigation methods is not the way to assist with this being dealt with, as any information we give could be used to avoid detection.

“As you likely know, combat logging is something that has been discussed openly with the community by our development team. There have been discussions and feedback on concepts such as a Karma system (here’s an example). This is one idea being considered in order to address such issues.

“I’m sure you can appreciate that finding a solution that allows for automatic detection against rule breakers while also being fair on honest players is something that holds a number of challenges. It is something under discussion and active consideration but we have nothing to announce right now.”

Source: Official forums, Reddit. With thanks to Soren!

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Michael Shankles

If you look at the previous test SDC did then at this one it shows that the FD responses are crapola

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Alex Malone

Is the argument about running from a fight in general, or specifically about logging off mid-combat to avoid consequences?

The article makes it sound like running away in general, which in an “open world” type of game like ED seems like it should be a fairly natural thing. I mean, if I’m flying alone in a shit ship and get jumped by someone better, damn straight I’m gonna try and flee!

If it’s just about logging off during combat, then fine, I understand that. So, is the complaint that Frontier aren’t banning people, that they haven’t prevented the practice in the first place, or what?

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Kayweg

Running away or disengaging from combat via in-game means is not what “combat logging” is about or what causes the controversy.
Even logging out in a regular manner, with the 15 second timer, is accepted by most as a legitimate method to avoid combat, or be it an unpopular one too.
In ED, the term “combat logging” is about players who task kill the game or yank out the network cable to immediately vanish and avoid the confrontation.

cmdr_cotic
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cmdr_cotic

I think this particular group (SDC) might see a lot more of this by dint of their reputation.

They’re the crowd who like to jump in 4vs1 and some people are just not going to want to waste their time with those sort of odds.
They’re the crowd who engineer their ships up the wazoo and then take on non-engineered trade ships for the lulz.
They’re the guys crying about cheating while a whole bunch of them were exploiting the hell out of engineering rolls and then trying to justify it after they were caught.

I’m more inclined to see what the karma system brings, it’s going to punish people that log out when they are in combat, so instead of Frontier having to ban those people their own actions are going to work against them.

ultimategnome
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ultimategnome

You’re going to be disappointed. The game’s primitive network system makes effective combat logging detection impossible and calling something a “Karma system” doesn’t suddenly solve that.

ED would have been able to solve the problem by having authoritative servers like EVE… if it had been a commercial success. It wasn’t, and with Frontier dumping the game at £5, clearly it is never going to be.

possum440 .
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possum440 .

Any pvp, no logging allowed. It doesn’t take squat for the developers to keep your avatar in game for 5 minutes unless you are in a safe area. This behavior is as old as pvp is.

Only lousy devs allow instant logging. You play a pvp game, you know the toxic risk and consequences of playing pvp. In fact, you should never be able to log unless you are in a safe area made for logging in any pvp enabled game. This includes any BS peer to peer.

cmdr_cotic
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cmdr_cotic

All well and good but it’s not so easy when you use peer to peer for player interaction.

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Schmidt.Capela

AFAIK the intended delay for logging off is just 15 seconds. So, assuming your ship can take 15s of pounding while being immobile, you can properly log off and then continue playing in group or solo mode, where your attackers are unable to follow. In ED that is perfectly legal, accepted by the devs, and doesn’t require breaking the rules or mucking with the game client in any shape or way.

ED was never intended as a PvP game, but rather as a game where PvP is possible. If it was a PvP game, it wouldn’t allow players to play in closed groups or solo without any disadvantages. Imagine if EVE had a switch players could flip before undocking that would make a specific player group unable to see anyone else, but in turn invisible and invulnerable to anyone else, while allowing them to engage in, and get the full rewards for, every kind of content EVE had; such an switch is the core concept around which ED’s multiplayer is built.

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TotalCowage .

You have to remember both sides of this argument aren’t exactly honestly representing their positions.

On the side of the people trying to “help” prevent combat logging, those involved are indeed dedicated to griefing, and it’s more about the usual narcissistic need to be at the centre of drama, to get a sense they’re controlling even the game makers themselves, and also to shut down the ability of people to escape from their abusive intentions.

You can argue that people have solo or friends only to go and play in if they don’t want to risk full contact PvP… but that doesn’t excuse the hypocrisy of taking any and all possible advantages to kill people, and then complaining because others use the same “If it can be done, I will” mindset to escape you. They just want to win at all costs.

And Frontier aren’t being honest about the real issues involved. Even in a purely player focused approach, the problem is the game is often so badly programmed, combat logging is the only way to avoid horrendous bugs.

So far, I’ve been spawned inside the surface of a star, inside planets, been automatically killed by stations with no warnings because of issues with passenger content, and bugs with bounties that have already been cleared being resurrected by a station scan which leads to me being blown up the the station again. I’ve had the defending skimmers fall out of the sky, crash into my shields, been given a bounty for supposedly ramming them and been blown up on the landing pad for being a criminal…

One replicatable bug I found and documented that made it to live servers involving module storage outright bricked your entire account. You couldn’t even get into it reset the issue, I had to have FDev manually go into it and edit the data by hand to get it back.

These get fixed pretty soon after appearing; the game isn’t that always that unstable, but the problem is they disable combat logging, after any major patch they’re likely to face a massive wave of consumer rage and exodus because they couldn’t escape some new, excitingly fatal situation.

The same goes for manually giving people their insurance money back. People die so often to bad game design it’s now just a standard practice to wave it through.

ultimategnome
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ultimategnome

Hey, combat logging is cheating and enforcement is supposed to prevent combatants escaping defeat so to say those pressing for enforcement are wanting to “shut down the ability of people to escape from their abusive intentions” is ridiculous. ED is advertised as a game for competitive multiplayer and anyone who chooses to play in that mode can’t credibly accuse attackers of “abusive intentions”.

And your accusation of those pressing for enforcement having “the hypocrisy of taking any and all possible advantages to kill people” is also ridiculous. If they were doing that, they’d be USING combat logging and NOT pressing for its ban.

Agreed about the bugs though. ED is a festering pile of bugs including some which return to the game months after FD has fixed them. You’d think FD would have learned its lesson on the importance of testing before shipping,but no, they recently shipped the PS4 port in a horribly defective state and still months later it has major graphics faults unfixed.

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Michael Shankles

It is not just those that you claim are dedicated to griefing that are complaining but those of us like me and the rest of The Code that are pirates in a group that has been around since launch of the game. Many of those that just go around and kill were pirates that got tired of Frontiers pathetic inability to make sure people follow the rules of the game, as well as the crap development they have put into piracy

Cmdr Lucifer Hate
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PhoenixDfire

This old chestnut. It doesn’t help that the group that constantly complains about combat logging are probably the biggest griefers in the game. Even though the case that they highlight is another griefer that combat logs a lot, there isn’t much sympathy for the complainers.

It is an issue to those who play in open, who like to play on the wrong side of the law (i.e. pirates), where traders will combat log as soon as they are interdicted but I’m hoping that the ‘Karma’ system, which FDev have said they looking at for ages, will lead to some shadow bannings (Players arn’t banned from the game as such, they’re just to forced to play in a solo mode for a certain length of time).

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neves_meid

FDEV: …continuous attempts at uncovering our investigation methods is not the way to assist with this being dealt with…

TRANSLATION: Do not search for any proof of a problem we could solve, but won’t. (Also, new ship skins are on sale, just $3.99!)

Honestly, Elite Dangerous is a terrible game that is only getting worse. They can’t afford to lose any players, so they allow this kind of thing to go on while the players suffer, and the smart ones uninstall in droves.

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zeko_rena

They don’t have the biggest active player base so I can understand not wanting to ban people, this is why I usually always play in Solo on a Private Group anyway

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jinarra

Malcontents make more work for the team assigned for the problem, are surprised when less gets done overall.

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squid

Is there no combat flag or log-off timer? Seems like a pretty damn easy problem to solve.

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BalsBigBrother

How does that tell a genuine disconnect from a combat log? I have gone down multiple times in one night due to connection issue some of those in combat and while it might seem to be a combat log its was a connection issue. Should I be punished as a result?

As I mentioned below it might seem an easy thing to solve but its not really when you put a bit of thought into it and that is even before you take into account the server limitations :-)

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zeko_rena

EVE have a log off timer and it seems to work pretty well, if you log out your ship won’t warp out for a set period of time.

This means in PVE I always make sure my tank is stable because of this, and I don’t really do PVP, but it prevents people combat logging, and if you are doing PVP when your connection is unstable then you reap what you sow I guess.

Quick Edit:
Not saying this approach will work in Elite, but it might be a good place for them to start looking at, and then adjusting it to work with Elite, but I guess that would require work and effort, and if there is one thing FDev’s hate….

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BalsBigBrother

EVE also has a completely different server structure that facilitates that no so much with E:D sadly

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zeko_rena

That is a shame, hopefully they manage to sort something out eventually, I will just continue to stick with solo and private group and avoid the mayhem for now :)

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Schmidt.Capela

There is a log off timer.

The issue is that ED uses a peer-to-peer server architecture; there is no central instance server to enforce the timer, or to make the player’s ship persist for its full length. So players just close the client process, or yank the Ethernet cable, or do anything that prevents the game from properly closing, which makes their ship vanish for everyone else and prevents them from suffering the consequences of death.

PS: this works against NPCs too.

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zeko_rena

Fair enough, I have never combat logged or looked into it so don’t know the details in and out.

Not a fan of peer-to-peer myself, fucking nightmare in GTA 5.
Interesting that it works for NPCs as well.

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Schmidt.Capela

While the whole simulation happens in the player’s computer, the game saves to Frontier’s servers. So, if you kill the client, anything that happened since the last time the game saved is lost — including any death to a NPC.

Also, NPCs are not persistent; they are generated on the fly. So, when you log back into the game, it generates the NPCs around you again, which means any aggressive NPC will be gone.

Though, of course, combat-logging when playing solo against NPCs isn’t detectable by other players.

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neves_meid

Yeah, almost every combat-focused game in existence has this log-off timer. It’s literally takes a single line of code that delays logoff if the player is flagged as in combat. Don’t loan money to anyone who says this is a difficult fix to implement.