Transparent policy discussion: Telescience calculators.

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MrStonedOne
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Transparent policy discussion: Telescience calculators.

Postby MrStonedOne » Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:03 pm #41776

So heres a fun idea! Lets have our normal adminbus policy discussion thread, but in the public so players can see how we go about deciding things!

(This is something we have in adminbus's forum on occasion, usually accompanying one made by us or players in the policy discussion thread, its just a place to discuss the issue at hand without it spiraling out of control from too many people trying to talk at once like every policy forum thread ever has done.)




So, HG apparently told brain-cake that their telescience calculator (linked here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1915 ) breaks rule 5:
https://tgstation13.org/wiki/Rules wrote:Don’t metagame. Do not ever use information, acquired out of character or through patterns or events your character would not be able to know, in game.


This is news to me. Considering that 1: sticky has admitted to using such things in that thread and multiple times in ooc/irc. 2: These calculators have been discussed for ever in ooc that they were universally known. 3: There isn't a single ban that i could find searching for tele/science/metagaming/meta gaming for this.

So, the obvious step here is to bridge the gap.

While the argument can be strongly made that it technically or even functionally breaks the aforementioned rule. Said rule was made before telescience was even a thought, and a discussion is needed for rather or not having that rule apply to these calculators is practical.

Background

Telescience lets you grab an item from a location or put an item on a location, given by IC'ified versions of x,y,z, coords in the form of the offset from the telepad location. The thing is, the telepad has this quirk where it's accuracy is fuzzed, so if you want to put something 10 tiles to the west and 18 to the north it may put it 9 tiles to the west and 22 to the north. This accuracy fuzzing stays the same for a set number of uses, then a message is given about something overloading, and the fuzz amount changes. The idea is to use gps's to figure out how its fuzzed and account for that as you use.

Well, as we can guess, someone made an excel spreadsheet to help calculate the fuzz and even account for it for a given x y coord using excel formulas not too long after telescience came out. These spreadsheets have been spreading around ooc, people making them better, adding common x y coord lists, etc. Then someone went a head and made a full blown program that did about the same thing but quicker using smart math.

Along with this is the coordinate maps, maps of the station and the various z levels with the x/y overlaying every tile. [example]

So now that you are caught up, lets discuss.

I'll leave my commands in a few so they don't have the advantage of being in the op.
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Re: Transparent policy discussion: Telescience calculators.

Postby KingLouisXIV » Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:20 pm #41779

This one is really sketchy.


While I understand the reasoning behind "You can't just -know- where that void spacesuit, head of staff's locker and cuban pete meat are just floating around space!" there is a certain line to be drawn where, what can Telescientists do? The entire department is an obfuscated mess, which arose the need for a spreadsheet/program that does calculus for you, just so people can use it. If we want to talk metagaming, then "Do not ever use information, acquired out of character or through patterns or events your character would not be able to know, in game." would apply to using a scientific calculator, the intended method of using the Telescience station. Unless a spessman actually scrawls down the long math on a sheet of paper in-game, are we going to start questioning people in Telescience and go "HOW'D YOU FIGURE OUT THE DIFFERENTIALS LAWBREAKING SCUM"?


I am no coder, but I will toot my own horn and say that I know a good amount about good game design. As far as I'm concerned, the current Telescience system is overcomplicated and relies on outside tools no matter what to actually use. This is pretty bad, and it's also junk in the fact that you have to read a guide to even figure out how to use it. At least in terms of other gameplay aspects we have on the station that involve players working with machines/construction, there's a level of trial and error that you can work your way through. I don't believe there's any good way to do that with Telescience, especially due to the fact that it resets after a chunk of uses.

The underlying problem here is that the design of the system itself encourages and nearly requires the use of "metagaming" to use. If the scientists don't know what they can teleport in, why bother? If the scientists don't show their math to run the system, why bother?


EDIT: At the time of writing this post, I wasn't aware of the level of sophistication Braincake's program had. I am not sure yet how this impacts my viewpoint on the situation.

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Re: Transparent policy discussion: Telescience calculators.

Postby Antonkr » Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:58 pm #41782

My take on this situation is that the telesci equation is inheritantly flawed. The thought process that the calculator is metagaming is also outright stupid. The equivelent would be of us including a super sekrit complicated recipe in chemistry for cyanid(which kills more or less instantly on impact) and banning people for sharing it. Nah thats just pretty stupid. The equation itself is mostly a nuisance rather then being an actual challange. I do however think there could be a decent alternative which I am thinking out.
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Re: Transparent policy discussion: Telescience calculators.

Postby QuartzCrystal » Fri Nov 07, 2014 3:08 pm #41786

I don't just think it's metagaming, it's powergaming. Telescience has the potential to basically end lots of rounds (malf being the prime example) due to how powerful it is and frankly, I like how god damn frustratingly complicated it is.

I think we should have a book in telescience that opens up to reveal such a spreadsheet (as I can't imagine a good reason why it wouldn't exist there) and while we're at it throw a Guide to Chemistry book into the chem lab.

I have no problem with someone needing to consult something to remember a formula or spreadsheet, but using an external program is over the line. While I don't disagree that this is perhaps a unique problem to telescience due to the way it's coded (and perhaps this should be fixed) I think we should encourage and implement IC solutions that will hopefully at least encourage people to not use the out of game program, as proving someone is using said program would certainly be a pain.

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Re: Transparent policy discussion: Telescience calculators.

Postby Aurx » Fri Nov 07, 2014 5:08 pm #41816

We're actually looking at TWO issues:
1: Is the use of an external utility for telesci calculations metagaming?
2: Is knowing the coordinate locations of everything on the maps metagaming?

The first is mostly a moot point because telesci math is too complex to perform in your head and there's no in-game calculator. Either you use an external utility, or you flat don't use telesci. If we decide that external utilities are metagaming, we've functionally decided that telesci in and of itself is metagaming. It's also unenforceable without PMing every single person who touches telesci and demanding they explain their math.

The second is the real meat of the issue. It's also the root of the problem. I've never seen telesci cause problems just through having fast calculations, only by teleporting to/from places they shouldn't know the coords of, such as the gun racks in the armory or the retro laser in space. It's fairly trivial to PM people who telesci in suspicious things like guns or spacesuits, and the means DO exist in game to get enough information on coords to make use of telesci for appropriate things, like tele-pizza delivery.
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Re: Transparent policy discussion: Telescience calculators.

Postby leibniz » Fri Nov 07, 2014 6:16 pm #41824

Telesci is an abonimation in its current form.
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Re: Transparent policy discussion: Telescience calculators.

Postby Hornygranny » Fri Nov 07, 2014 6:24 pm #41825

The combination of the two is the real issue, compounded by the fact that the legitimate use of telescience is already pretty cheesy. Teleporting bombs into the AI core, looting the armory, that sort of thing. A feature in search of a purpose.
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Re: Transparent policy discussion: Telescience calculators.

Postby Aurx » Fri Nov 07, 2014 7:12 pm #41837

The combination of the two is only a problem insofar as the first is required to make any usage of the second, and the second's where the issue comes from. You also need power to use telesci, but we don't label the APC as part of the problem.
Being able to telesci into/out of places like the AI core, armory, ect at all is yet another issue. But it's not a policy issue, it's a code issue.
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Re: Transparent policy discussion: Telescience calculators.

Postby Pandarsenic » Sat Nov 08, 2014 3:59 am #41911

Telescience is legitimately awful as it is; it allows you, if and ONLY if you have the external utility, to retrieve or send items anywhere in the game, which is then used to hit common listings of loot.

It's space exploration, without the time, risk, or equipment needed. But even MORE.
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Re: Transparent policy discussion: Telescience calculators.

Postby Timbrewolf » Mon Nov 24, 2014 8:20 am #45565

I'm with Leib, Pandar, and HG on this:

Telescience is mostly bullshit. It allows people who have the tools to steal whatever they want with minimal effort or plant a bomb similarly.

IMO rather than get wrapped up in this argument about what's meta or not meta we should just get rid of the source of the problem, since it's game-breaking no matter what. This is a game about paranoia and sneaking around, or pitched battles with lethal weaponry to get what you want.

Not punching a couple numbers into a calculator for greentext.
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Re: Transparent policy discussion: Telescience calculators.

Postby Stickymayhem » Mon Nov 24, 2014 8:45 am #45568

I think changing the purpose of telescience would be better than scrapping it entirely.

It has so many interesting applications: Body recovery, Retrieving Miners and Ore, Bombing alien hives, blobs and malfs, lifting people out of tricky spots, package transport and even prisoner management.

I think the simplest and best solution is to turn space loot random like maintenance. It's a simple fix that resolves most of the problems with telescience. Now either they are tediously pulling shit out of space or they have to physically go to the derelict and other space locations for the good stuff. I used to love two manning telescience. It felt more like exploration than actually exploring space, sending little 4 letter messages via the GPSes, panicking when it all goes wrong and trying to retrieve the guy you just shoved head first into the asteroid.

Fixing things is better than outright removing them.
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Re: Transparent policy discussion: Telescience calculators.

Postby Timbrewolf » Wed Nov 26, 2014 9:43 am #46107

It has so many interesting applications: Body recovery, Retrieving Miners and Ore, Bombing alien hives, blobs and malfs, lifting people out of tricky spots, package transport and even prisoner management.


All of those things have a certain degree of difficulty attached to them, often purposely or by skilled application, to keep them balanced or reward players for going the distance to obtain them.

For example a lot of thought goes into building the area around the AI to make it difficult to break into, but not impossible, so someone deadset on killing it or capturing it has to put some work in to get it done. It's the fortress for a malf AI. Being able to instantly just toss bombs in there ruins that whole game mode. A traitor scientist can snap their fingers and wipe the AI out with zero effort.

Likewise a lot of the cool hidden items and things strewn around space are there to reward people for exploring and finding them the hardway, or at least getting a space suit to make the trek out to get them.

Another major problem with it is there's no evidence or obvious sign that all your shit has gone missing because telescience did it. Something might be more obvious like the laser gun gone but the glass case is still intact. But when the CE's locker just isn't there anymore, how is anybody going to know that it's because a telescientist grabbed it for the blueprints? In almost every other case of theft there's some fingerprints or glove fibers at least left behind, a potential for a witness. Not with telescience. And with the calculator and map it's not hard to do at all.

Unless you change it so it can't target anything on the station itself, I don't see how you can "fix" it, since it's going to be an avenue for unbalanced item nabbing, AI circumventing, and malf busting otherwise.

By its very function it steps over prettymuch everything anyone ever built before to balance the risk/reward.
Can you explain how you could possibly fix a mechanic that allows you to grab anything from anywhere in the game at the push of a button, to make that not overpowered?
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Re: Transparent policy discussion: Telescience calculators.

Postby Pandarsenic » Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:16 pm #46281

1) Make it incredibly difficult (tried, led to outside utilities)
2) Add in a major RNG factor, genetics style. Annoying as hell.
3) ???

It's just a poorly-balanced feature.
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