From: "Mark Mielke" <mark at>

> On Mon, Dec 10, 2001 at 08:09:58PM -0800, Daniel Damouth wrote:
> > From: "Brian Paulsen" <brian at>
> > > Why would messaging through sockets be cheating?  Surely, we don't
> > > consider INL teams sitting all in one room to be cheating, do we?
> > > Why should they be allowed to communicate outside the normal
> > > messaging system, but bots can't?
> > Sophisticated methods of communicating, such as beeplite, are considered
> > cheating/borgish.  And what he's suggesting goes way beyond beeplite.
If I
> > built any special socket code into my team's clients, it would not be
> > INL/WNL legal.  It would be blatant cheating.
> >
> > There is no way humans can do what he describes.  Even sitting right
next to
> > someone doesn't come close.
> >
> By the same token, it would be impossible for a robot player, given
> current technology to truly adapt to situations whose variables could
> not be determined at compile time.

No, it's not impossible, not even with current technology.  But it's also
not necessary, if all you want is a robot team that can beat humans.

> Does this make the human player a cheater?
> You may be able to swivel your hand to torp in one direction, and phaser
> in another, faster than I can. Does this mean that you are cheating,
> because I am incapable of having as quick reflexes as you do?
> The 'rules' of Netrek are quite well defined. They can be found in the
> vanilla source code maintained by this list. The only additional
> rules, as configured by server administrators, is that the computer
> cannot be used to 'aid' a player in such ways as may be considered
> 'cheating' by the server administrator. As it is, it is a *given* that
> a server administrator that chose to allow a fully automated robot on
> the server, would do so under the full knowledge that server rules
> will be exploited to the best of abilities by the robot, and as
> implemented by the robot designers.

Well, sure, if you're going to change the rules, or find a server god
willing to do so, then the bots won't be cheating.  But why not play the
same game the humans are playing?  I.e. use INL rules.  Not only is it a
more interesting challenge, but it also would make human vs. bot games

Are you interested in pitting your bots vs. human teams?  If so, do the
human teams get to modify their clients to instantly exchange information?
There are tons of advantages to be had that way, but no real point in doing
so because on any normal server, and in any human league, it would be
considered cheating.

> In a 'robot league', I would consider the intervention of a *human*
> player, potentially 'cheating'.

I'd agree, although it might potentially be interesting to have a "no holds
barred" league, with any combination of human/bot/borg players.  (This
reminds of the strategy/simulation game "empire", in which players are
allowed to write any kind of client they want.)

> Those who play the game according to tradition, are restricted by
> tradition. Those who exploit the rules to their advantage, have the
> maximum potential to win.

I agree, but changing the rules to favor the bots just doesn't seem
interesting to me, unless you let the humans play under the same rules, and
the community realized a long time ago that allowing client developers to
automate functions  was not a good direction for netrek to evolve in.
Generally speaking, making the clients smarter dumbs down the game.

> The robots won't be snivelling and crying because they don't have the
> mental capacity to adapt with as much potential as a human player. What
> gives humans the right to snivel and cry, because they cannot match the
> reflexes, or organization potential, of a computer?
> Consider the true tradition of Netrek. It is based off Star Trek. What
> is the greatest enemy of all non-Q entities in the galaxy? :-) The
> borg.  Why? Because they do not live by the same rules as the rest of
> the species in the Universe. Where humanity thrives on independence,
> the borg thrive on the collective.
> In the true sense of the word, and the concept, the implementation I
> am suggesting truly is a mirror of this 'collective' as defined by
> Star Trek. The abilities of this 'collective' strongly match
> technologies that are described in Star Trek.

Most commercial human-vs.-computer strategy games take the some approach,
which can be described as "the only way to challenge the human player is to
play under different rules".  For example, in Civilization, the computer has
to cheat extensively to challenge the human player at higher difficulty
levels.  Nobody really likes the fact that the computer has to cheat.

> Do you fear the borg? :-) Starfleet certainly does...

The Borg were one of the few actually alien aliens in Star Trek, before the
writers gutted the concept by introducing individuals and/or turning them
into insects.  The day I saw the movie with that stupid Borg Queen was the
last day I ever went to a Star Trek movie.

Dan Damouth