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Thread: An Investigation Into Frontier's Actions on Combat Logging, Part 2

  1. #1

    An Investigation Into Frontier's Actions on Combat Logging, Part 2

    How did we get here?


    Late last year, we posted the results of our investigation into FDev’s actions on combat logging and found, unsurprisingly, that they were doing nothing. The project had two phases:


    * Phase 1 involved reporting a bunch of combat logs while providing the videos for them and seeing if they were ever watched. None of the videos were watched, but we learned that FDev can apparently figure it out using “internal methods”. This wasn’t going to cut it on its own, obviously.
    * Phase 2 included multiple SDC members combat logging on each other with video evidence and proper tickets being submitted. No accounts received any warnings from FDev


    What we found was that while telling the community they were punishing combat loggers, they were actually doing nothing at all. FDev responded to the post predictably, assuring everyone that they *totally do punish loggers*, but that they messed up and didn’t follow the process for these specific combat logs over the course of 3 months or so. Shocking.


    Obviously, we were still incredibly skeptical, despite FDev’s assurances that the process would be followed in the future, so we decided to test them again.


    Before we move on to our new investigation, I think we should go over what combat logging is, as well as why it’s bad. I’m going to shamelessly lift from the previous post here:



    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 to 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.


    In the previous post, some commenters brought up some great criticisms of our methods. One that stuck out in our minds was that our process was too randomized. Nearly every reported log came from a different account, so if it was the first offense for all of those, maybe FDev wouldn’t action them at all.



    The new plan


    Given the shortcomings of our previous plans, we put the lone SDC brain cell to use to establish as fool proof a plan as we were capable of forming:


    * A secure alt would combat log multiple times on multiple different players
    * All combat logs would be recorded from the aggressor’s perspective, from interdiction through the in-game report after the combat log
    * An additional ticket would be opened on the FDev website, and a short description of the events would be provided, along with the video of the incident


    Following this procedure would ensure multiple tickets submitted for combat logging, which would establish a pattern of behavior for this account. The “logger” account was active, participating in PvE activities like trade CG’s and exploring. The account was purchased in June 2017, and was played as a normal account for this timeframe. Currently, the account has the following stats:


    * Assets: 87 mil
    * Combat/Trade/Explorer rank: Novice/Broker/Pathfinder
    * Farseer/Elvira/Blaster unlocked and upgraded to G5
    * Ships owned: AspX, Viper Mk3


    A total of 5 combat logs were recorded over the course of 5 months. We did this to simulate what we felt a real player would do. No one combat logs 10 times in a week, they space it out when they run into PvP activity.


    * Ticket from combat log #1
    * Ticket from combat logs #2 & 3
    * Ticket from combat log #4
    * Ticket from combat log #5


    In summary, what we have here are 5 different clear combat logs done from the same account over a length of time, which should be crystal clear to FDev as such. All logs were task-kills and were reported minutes after they occurred.



    What we found


    Frontier is still doing literally nothing about punishing combat loggers. An account that had 5 clear task-kills received no punishments, no account limitations, not even a single warning letter.


    This is now the 2nd time we have caught Frontier red-handed lying about their procedures surrounding this exploit, which has existed since game launch and has still not been fixed. FDev’s continual refusal to punish combat loggers is an absolute disgrace to the playerbase of this game. At this point, we can only assume that Frontier does not punish combat logging at all, either because they can’t detect it or because they don’t want to.


    FDev, be straightforward with us. If you don’t care about combat logging, say so. It will save people a bunch of time if we don’t have to submit tickets for this stuff every time we see someone cheating. Instead, what you’re doing is undermining faith in yourselves, because you’re telling people to report exploiters because you totally do punish them while taking those reports and tossing them in the garbage can.

  2. #2
    Some good solid detective work there ... the only thing I would say is that, personally, I'm not entirely surprised that no action was taken against a player who only combat logged once a month. If I was in FD's shoes that would smack of a player who just gets cold feet in the heat of combat and chickens out occasionally. Hardly a candidate for shadow banning. At most I would personally expect Frontier to issue that player with a warning after maybe the 3rd or 4th incident to remind them that combat logging is frowned upon.

  3. #3
    Keep up the info flow CMDR!
    Good to hear some news,
    sadly it is what i thought.

  4. #4
    I play form Australia. With bad internet. Fdev should punish everyone from the first time a disconnection happens and punish them even more for every time it happens after this, while in a combat situation (yes even if you dont shoot back, but are being shot, this is a combat situation). Whether it's your internet dropping connection or it's someone task killing, it don't matter. If you have that bad of internet connection issues you should not be playing in a multiplayer game mode anyway. I would be happy if Fdev punished people like this. If I were to have a drop out while in combat someday (which has never happened) and I were to get a ban for it, well I would be fine with this. Just knowing all the people that are cheating by combat logging was getting punished as well. It's actually pretty simple if they did this by looking at video evidence and actually took the time to look at logs. There is NO excuse for Fdev doing nothing about "combat logging". NO excuse at all. This is so disappointing!!!

  5. #5
    I wouldn’t expect anything else but a canned response, sadly. It’s the new corporate system; instead of fixing the problems and better serving their customers, companies know that they’ve got you by the short hairs.

    The new mentality is if you don’t like the product, don’t use the product. It’s easier for them to get a few more new users’ money in a Steam sale than it is to fix a long standing problem for a user that hasn’t given them money since Horizons dropped.

  6. #6
    Nice work SDC, but I'm sure we're about to be told why this isn't a problem or the test was flawed in 5.. 4.. 3..

    I think it's pretty safe to say that the vast majority of combat log reports go unactioned, regardless of circumstances.

  7. #7
    I feel very sorry for you. Always have

  8. #8
    Can't wait for white knights to defend cheating again.

  9. #9
    Looking forward to a thoughtful discussion on the topic and hopefully a prompt reply from a member of FDev. Good work guys!

  10. #10

  11. #11
    5 logs in 5 months. Really? I have that many disconnects from internet issues with this game...you really got to make this stuff more believable for FDEV to act.

    How about 10 players with increasing levels of ridiculouness? 1 per month for 5 months. 6 times per month for 5 months. 20 times per month for 5 months.....etc. You might actually hit their threshold for banning folks....since you don't know what the threshold is..you can't claim to know if they are, or are not, doing anything.

  12. #12
    ZZZZzzzzzZzzzzZZZZzzzzz.
    Sorry...what? SDC accusing someone of cheating?
    ZZZZZzzzzZzzZZZZZzzzz

  13. #13
    This is very disappointing. It kills the motivation to report combat logging and makes cheating seemingly acceptable to FD.

    I'd be surprised if FD responded to this thread. Please surprise me, FD.

  14. #14
    Originally Posted by DeathDingo View Post (Source)
    I play form Australia. With bad internet. Fdev should punish everyone from the first time a disconnection happens and punish them even more for every time it happens after this. Whether it's your internet dropping connection or it's someone task killing, it don't matter. If you have that bad of internet connection issues you should not be playing in a multiplayer game mode anyway. I would be happy if Fdev punished people like this. If I were to have a drop out while in combat someday (which has never happened) and I were to get a ban for it, well I would be fine with this. Just knowing all the people that are cheating by combat logging was getting punished as well. It's actually pretty simple if they did this by looking at video evidence and actually took the time to look at logs. There is NO excuse for Fdev doing nothing about "combat logging". NO excuse at all. This is so disappointing!!!
    I've played many MMO games over the years with barely any disconnections (Archeage and ESO were bad in the beginning but improved to almost never losing connection). ED is the first one where I got random disconnections in a crowded instance, leaving warp, arriving on a planet, and it still occurs on busy weekends - so I think they need to get their own house in order before shadow banning customers. Seems like the only way they can tell it's not an adjudication / connection error vs someone combat logging is to watch if someone is in combat and constantly gets disconnected only when they're low on health.

  15. #15
    Originally Posted by Jonuss View Post (Source)
    Looking forward to a thoughtful discussion on the topic and hopefully a prompt reply from a member of FDev. Good work guys!
    Are you also looking forward to the return of King Arthur too?

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