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Thread: An investigation into Frontier's actions on Combat Logging

  1. #1

    An investigation into Frontier's actions on Combat Logging

    What is combat logging?

    Combat logging is the act of forcefully quitting (by either program task-kill or forced internet disconnect) the game while engaged in combat with another player. Frontier has clarified this act as an exploit, and a bannable offense.
    Combat logging via the main menu/desktop via the 15 second timer is a different matter and discussion to be had entirely. Currently, this action is confirmed by Frontier as “legitimate”, and as such is not being addressed in this post.

    Why is combat logging bad?

    Aside from being classed as exploiting by Frontier themselves, combat logging is bad for the game (and gameplay experience) of both the exploiter and the victim. Not only does logging deprive both players of meaningful interaction in game that is vastly empty and void of a human element, but it stifles the rare emergent experiences that make the game more than a sterile grind.
    Furthermore, the very nature of risk and reward is upended (a fundamental aspect of any game) because the combat logging party is never faces any risk of loss. Because the combat logger faces no negative consequences for any action, non-combat loggers must shoulder the full—and completely asymmetrical—burden of risk for any interaction: this disincentivizes meaningful PvP gameplay in a game billed as a space MMO.
    Prime examples of gameplay styles that are hard-countered by combat logging include:

    • PvP piracy
    • Powerplay undermining defense/attacks
    • Inter-faction warfare
    • Player bounty hunting
    • Hunting newbie-killers
    • Blockades
    • System protection


    What does Frontier claim to be doing about it?

    After much consternation and discussion involving the relative legality of combat logging with the devs, community, and community managers, Frontier ruled the action of combat logging to be “exploiting”and as such is punishable by shadowbanning offenders (a “shadowban” is a client restriction preventing them from accessing “open play,” which is the online mode with other players.) After this ruling, Frontier has encouraged the reporting and documenting (usually with a YouTube link and supporting chat screenshots) of CMDRs engaging in exploiting. This reporting is done via the support ticketing system, and is usually accompanied by confirmation from Frontier that they have received, and are reviewing, the case of exploiting: they have a stated response time of “usually within 48 hours” for reviewing tickets and supporting documents related to the case.

    What appears to be happening?

    Despite hundreds of reports of combat loggers, there is no apparent evidence that any action has ever been taken against an exploiter—in fact, there is mounting evidence that Frontier has been lying since the beginning with respect to investigating cases of exploiting. Frontier conveniently maintains that they will not share any details about punitive action taken against an account or whether any action was taken at all, providing them cover to their own policy of neglect. However, we have compiled meticulously documented evidence that Frontier is not only lying about their own policies, but encouraging players to go through the effort of reporting exploiters simply to provide a façade of being anti-exploiter in their own game.

    Testing the hypothesis that combat logging is being swept under the rug.

    Our test was conducted in the following way, done across two stages.
    Stage one:

    1. Taskkill Combat loggers were recorded in game, and most admitted to exploiting in chat afterwards in addition to the video evidence.
    2. The video hosted on Youtube was set to “unlisted,” meaning that only the party (Frontier) with the direct URL link could access the video.
    3. The viewcount with a timestamp was recorded prior to the submission of the evidence to Frontier.
    4. We submitted support tickets accompanied with the unlisted video and chat evidence of combat loggers to Frontier, asking for an investigation.
    5. We confirmed with support that they did in fact receive our request for an investigation.
    6. We waited a minimum of 1 week before following up with support, allowing them a generous window in excess ofthe ~48 hours they require.
    7. After confirmation from Frontier that the investigation was complete, we reviewed the view counts on the Youtube video evidence.


    Stage two:

    1. Three of our own alt accounts were used to taskkill combat log on our members, who recorded footage of said logs and reported them to Frontier support with tickets.
    2. Once support had acknowledged that they were looking into the case, the owners of the alt accounts monitored their emails to see if Frontier had punished them in any way.


    What we found—Confirmation that Frontier is lying.

    After several iterations of reports to Frontier, confirmation that they engaged in an investigation of exploiting, and review of the view counts on the videos, we found that in all instances of reported exploiting, Frontier failed to view any of the video evidence in the reports a single time, even after several weeks and confirmation that they had in fact investigated the reports.
    Stage two was aimed at testing Frontier's claims that they can determine taskkills using their internal logs, thereby making the video evidence redundant and/or unnecessary in some cases, and to track any punishments handed out. What we found was that the submitted videos received zero views, and none of our alt accounts have received any form of punishment to this day either - they simply closed the tickets.

    Not only is it disconcerting that Frontier tacitly approves of exploiting (as they have defined it themselves) in their own game, but it is unethical that Frontier is willing to not only lie about their anti-exploit actions, but actively encourage players to take the time to record, upload, and file tickets reporting exploiters, knowing full well they will do nothing with the reports. Frontier’s unwillingness to police their own game against exploiters while blatantly lying to the playerbase about it is uncharacteristic of Frontier’s friendly public image, and is a detriment to the player community as a whole.

    What does this mean?

    Unfortunately, it is impossible to get Frontier to change policy or quit lying about their actions (with respect to exploiters and the community) without exposing their malfeasance for the players to see. We have tried many times through the appropriate channels to get Frontier to either take action or go public with their endorsement of exploiting, but they have lied and dodged every step of the way in order to placate the playerbase. Sometimes it is necessary for players to take it upon themselves to try and improve a game that is under threat; we were forced to do this with the heat meta, and will do it again as necessary. In this instance, it will be by publicising our findings to relevant media sites until Frontier decides to take action.

  2. #2
    Tl;dr: Frontier didn't even look at the video evidence.

    ...FD, I just lost a lot of respect for you. The game design stuff, that's all opinions at the end of the day. No lies, nothing untoward, just different philosophies on how things should work.

    Don't lie to your players. At least with all the controversies thus far, there's good faith to fall back on. You blew that.
    Jumping into jet cones(2.2) ❌Mission Payments(2.1 B) Wing Networking(2.1) ✔️️Interdiction
    (2.2)
    ❌High-G ship recall(2.2 b)
    ❌Crime & Punishment(1.0) Powerplay SRV Scanner(2.1) Offline play
    (KS)
    Rare trading(2.1)
    Please fix the above, then let's talk about balance and new features.

  3. #3
    so now there seems to be proof of what had been obvious for ages.

    well done, and thanks, but take care. our society has shown not to be very appreciative of whistle blowers.

  4. #4
    +1

    Sad that it seems to have come to this but combat logging is, and always has been this games biggest flaw...

    (gets popcorn)

  5. #5
    Now that's some investigative journalism.

    There is always of course a flipside to the coin. I'd like to hear a statement from FDEV on these accusations.

  6. #6
    Originally Posted by znôrt View Post (Source)
    so now there seems to be proof of what had been obvious for ages.

    well done, and thanks, but take care. our society has shown not to be very appreciative of whistle blowers.
    I think I see an avalanche coming! RUN!

    ...no, wait, it's just a ton of white knights.

    This should, at the very least, be entertaining. Can't wait to see how the fanboys react (although I'm placing my bets on wild accusations and personal insults).

  7. #7
    FD would not comment on any activity anyway. They would keep it under wraps just as they don;t allow 'naming & shaming' here on the forums.

    At best your 'evidence' is one tiny notch above anecdotal. It suggests a response along the lines of 'Cool story, Brah'.

    As to FD lying, that's crazy. FD said they are developing ways to monitor logging, not that they could tell when someone combat logged. You have a skewed perspective and it shows in your post.
    Commander Mohrgan
    Separating Pirates and Ships since 3300

  8. #8
    Well investigated, without bias and expertly conducted. A fair piece imo.

    I'm a supporter of Fdev, and their work here, but always found this an ignored and under managed issue. Can't fix it? Just tell us, if there is nothing you can do, say so. Even if you say 'we'd like to work on it, but its a bit hard to police' fair enough. Buy why state its against the rules and not do ANYTHING to stop it?

    Rule breaking = acceptable?

    I'm waiting for the carebears to come flying to defend Fdev and their legit tactics to avoid evil PVPers. Like the post above... defending the issue immediately.

  9. #9
    Originally Posted by Terrana_Conscorn View Post (Source)
    Well investigated, without bias and expertly conducted. A fair piece imo.

    I'm a supporter of Fdev, and their work here, but always found this an ignored and under managed issue. Can't fix it? Just tell us, if there is nothing you can do, say so. Even if you say 'we'd like to work on it, but its a bit hard to police' fair enough. Buy why state its against the rules and not do ANYTHING to stop it?

    Rule breaking = acceptable?

    I'm waiting for the carebears to come flying to defend Fdev and their legit tactics to avoid evil PVPers.
    You were ninja'd by said care bear while typing.

  10. #10
    Originally Posted by Mohrgan View Post (Source)
    FD would not comment on any activity anyway. They would keep it under wraps just as they don;t allow 'naming & shaming' here on the forums.

    At best your 'evidence' is one tiny notch above anecdotal. It suggests a response along the lines of 'Cool story, Brah'.

    As to FD lying, that's crazy. FD said they are developing ways to monitor logging, not that they could tell when someone combat logged. You have a skewed perspective and it shows in your post.
    Video evidence was not even viewed. That directly puts the lie to the previous assurances that loggers would be punished. Tickets are closed without anyone even looking.
    Jumping into jet cones(2.2) ❌Mission Payments(2.1 B) Wing Networking(2.1) ✔️️Interdiction
    (2.2)
    ❌High-G ship recall(2.2 b)
    ❌Crime & Punishment(1.0) Powerplay SRV Scanner(2.1) Offline play
    (KS)
    Rare trading(2.1)
    Please fix the above, then let's talk about balance and new features.

  11. #11
    peeps have done alot worse than combat logging...and they are still here.
    FD know it too.

  12. #12
    Originally Posted by Karunamon View Post (Source)
    Don't lie to your players. At least with all the controversies thus far, there's good faith to fall back on. You blew that.
    well, let's not get this out of proportion either. frontier is a company, companies lie by nature. this isn't the only lie by far, but they are not really seriously damaging lies. just business, my friend. in any business you have to prime the total value, not these little inconsistencies. that's how it goes with frontier and with any company :-)

    however, blindly believing this sort of things is more than a bright display of candor, it shows some lacking in critical thinking and awareness.

  13. #13

  14. #14
    Originally Posted by znôrt View Post (Source)
    well, let's not get this out of proportion either. frontier is a company, companies lie by nature. this isn't the only lie by far, but they are not really seriously damaging lies. just business, my friend. in any business you have to prime the total value, not these little inconsistencies. that's how it goes with frontier and with any company :-)

    however, blindly believing this sort of things is more than a bright display of candor, it shows some lacking in critical thinking.
    Or, they could have come out with the truth, which is "We don't want to spend the resources on pursuing these exploiters at this time". What is absolutely not okay is saying "if you give us evidence, we'll do something about it".

    This is strike 2. The second materially, knowingly false statement that FD has made on record. The first was offline play.
    Jumping into jet cones(2.2) ❌Mission Payments(2.1 B) Wing Networking(2.1) ✔️️Interdiction
    (2.2)
    ❌High-G ship recall(2.2 b)
    ❌Crime & Punishment(1.0) Powerplay SRV Scanner(2.1) Offline play
    (KS)
    Rare trading(2.1)
    Please fix the above, then let's talk about balance and new features.

  15. #15
    So task killing is bad and should be punished - so to test it out you went task killing yourselves with secondary accounts just to see if FD would punish you and let you know what action was taken against yourselves.

    Not an unexpected outcome really.
    Drunks of Sol, Drunks of Sol, drunken spaceships full of lol

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