Mercs of Mikunn - 3 Year report: The Once Secret BGS mechanics and how to figure out exploits

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Obsidian Ant's Video on this Thread and Topic​

[video=youtube;k2BrCTZ9k9Q]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2BrCTZ9k9Q[/video]


Summary

The Merc of Mikunn were founded on game launch with the purpose of bug reporting on the back-ground simulation (BGS), the crowning achievement perhaps being the first BGS guide which opened the black box which was the BGS at the time. That guide is now stickied in the forum here . We did this to make the game better for everyone and level the playing field between those who knew, and those who did not, and it has been added to by many groups. It is time once again to level the playing field and release a secret that we have been sitting on for a long time. It is not so secret anymore, but many still do not know, and it is being used against groups extensively. With this knowledge (1) you will know how the BGS fundamentally works, (2) you will be able to create your own exploits, (3) past exploits and how they ended up existing will make sense to you. Many peoples efforts have contributed to this knowledge, most certainly including those beyond the mercs. So without further ado….


BGS: The Skeleton Key

The BGS is operated by transaction and not by value. Value is the ten million in bounties you spent all day collecting. Transaction is the one time you turn it in.

Frontier once posted this chart:


Note collecting bounties is +2 and murder is -5. How much value of bounty is +2? One million? Two million? Neither. The reason why the action above only says “2” is because its only assigned to the transaction and not the value. This means that 2 million bounties turned in at once equals 2 points, and 200,000 bounties done ten times (also a total of two million) will generate twenty points. Same bounty value, but a factor of ten difference in BGS change.

Similarly killing a couple of ships in a warzone and then turning it in is far more efficient. I could kill a couple ships in the war zone and turn in 11 times (11 transactions) and beat ten players fighting against me who play all day and turn in once (ten transactions).

You can apply this to every BGS action in game. There you go, you probably are thinking of new exploits already. Think up an action in game, now think of how to break it down in transactions. Use the chart above to calculate how many points you get.


Past Exploits
Remember the trade exploit where players would sell one item at a time at a loss to nuke a faction down? That was because multiple transactions were made for each sale. Value doesnt matter, transaction did.

Why is system authority so effective vs other bgs actions? Every time you murder someone it instantly creates a transaction, vs bounty hunting where you turn in all at once.

But wait! These exploits still exist. The way the game works hasn’t changed. It’s still transactional – Frontier simply uses thresholds where a minimum amount must be turned in to count. So turning in one item at a time might not work… but several may, or a minimum value may, or jumping out of the instance and doing it again may. Once the threshold is identified, you know how much you need to do to be more efficient than any other group and spam it.

Similarly people can still kill system authority and jump out before the response timer ends and jump back in.


Dear God Why???
I don’t know for sure, but before we call anyone stupid for a horrible implementation, my guess is that the purpose was to allow anyone, be they in a sidewinder or an anaconda, to have an effect on the game and “blaze their own trail”. Problem is, as we discover the thresholds and frontier patches them higher and higher, the threshold will become out of range of the sidewinder, but still provide an exploitative spamable transaction giving the worst of both worlds.

Only Frontier can really say why.


Solution

Get rid of the transactional nature of the BGS and make it by value, value not necessarily being credits.

As long as the BGS is transactional exists, my group can find an exploit. Any patch or threshold to hide it, my group will find a way around. And once we do, we will have a leg up on any group in efficiency, often by a factor of ten or more. My group is defensive and tries to help other groups get involved positively in the BGS. That is our purpose.

Other groups aren’t necessarily like that, and can also figure it out. In fact, they already have. I am aware of it being extensively used to troll groups and the BGS has mostly devolved into offensive exploits vs defensive exploits. Some do not know and get outright destroyed.

I’m sorry I sat on it this long, but I hope everyone understands why we did. And now that many groups know it has become unfair for those who don’t. I hope this levels the playing field, and generates the discussion needed to prompt change. Please complain, but be nice. The purpose here is not to bash Frontier, but make the game better.

My greatest fear here is that Frontier patches out the defensive transaction exploits, and leaves offensive transactions like kill system authority. Please, for the love of Braben, do not.

Please distribute to your BGS gurus to contribute to the discussion. This is needed for a fix and I plan on presenting this to Frontier.



Edit: Some people think that this design choice does not result in exploits.

Exploit:
In video games, an exploit is the use of a bug or glitches, game system, rates, hit boxes, speed or level design etc. by a player to their advantage in a manner not intended by the game's designers.

The designers did not intend for you to be selling goods one at a time to bomb a stations faction owner to zero influence. Its a design flaw that creates what are, by definition, exploits. I understand why the design was chosen. It doesn't make these techniques that result from it any less of an exploit.




With the best of intentions,
Walt Kerman and the Mercs

Merc Discord: https://discord.gg/Hx5eW8s
Part of another group? Discord for diplomats: https://discord.gg/aukqKNE


 
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+1 rep.

Yes, making it value based, rather than transaction based would make a lot more sense. Perhaps it's easier to hide the transactions behind value or action deadbands. But easy isn't always right.

Hopefully, FD will try to make it all value based, but I'm concerned that they'll make an even bigger mess of it if they try. Math hasn't proven to be their strongest suit.
 
This is a pretty big deal to player groups with minor factions and it has become quite pervasive now. If anyone wants to add supporting evidence, Ill link your post to the bottom of the original post. I made OP short enough to be simple and didn't want to over complicate it.
 
I hope that FD didn't just use thresholds to fix the 1-tonne exploit.

It should be perfectly valid to pick up a few cargo items in a USS and expect them to count towards the BGS when selling them at a market or blackmarket.

Oh but they did. There is a way around it. Not necessarily just a threshold.
 
The Trade trick nowadays is by profitable items by variety from what I can tell.

Trade with smaller batches of different items per trip.

So instead of trading 1-ton individually of say Bertrandite from an Extraction to Refinery, you want to trade some Bertrandite, some Indite, Gallite, Coltan... then its counts each transaction of item type on that trip.
 
This is absurd. There is no way that a player dropping huge amounts of cargo, bounties or whatever should have the same effect as some pleb in a Sidey selling a few tons.
Indeed, now that missions have options for rewards, if small ships like the Sidey want to be used, then seeking the best INF+(++++) missions would be the way to go, so there would be no need any more for a transaction based method of counting contribution.

Small ships can still compete with missions and large ships can leverage there size and cost for Quantity contributions
 
This is absurd. There is no way that a player dropping huge amounts of cargo, bounties or whatever should have the same effect as some pleb in a Sidey selling a few tons.
Absolutely. And we need to get Frontiers attention not only for a change, but the right one.
 
Just to note I am not arguing with the sentiment. I always found it odd that Cobra/Python/Anaconda does the same BGS workload regardless of capacity or durability.

We really need the Value of work to be more adequately represented between the effort and results.
 
While I can nod my head to a lot of what you are saying Walt, the problem with making it by value pushes people into the big ships.

In that case, missions at least need to be doable in small ships and have a comparable effect to other activities, although then there is the whole issue of stacking.

I'm now flying mainly Cobras, and i'd hate it to become so that I can't have an impact on the BGS compared to someone flying a big ship.
 
While I can nod my head to a lot of what you are saying Walt, the problem with making it by value pushes people into the big ships.

In that case, missions at least need to be doable in small ships and have a comparable effect to other activities, although then there is the whole issue of stacking.

I'm now flying mainly Cobras, and i'd hate it to become so that I can't have an impact on the BGS compared to someone flying a big ship.
Then perhaps we should also make sure that you get the same trade profit from trading one ton vs 600, so people don't get pushed into bigger ships. ;)

I see what they are trying to do, but it wont work and will only create exploits. There would still be advantages to having smaller ships. I fly a dbs and find it very effective for mission running. That T9 would also be bigger but wouldn't be useful at collecting tons of high value exploration data, so pushing towards bigger ships wouldnt always be true. It would depend on the activity and also make sense for that activity.
 
While I can nod my head to a lot of what you are saying Walt, the problem with making it by value pushes people into the big ships.

In that case, missions at least need to be doable in small ships and have a comparable effect to other activities, although then there is the whole issue of stacking.

I'm now flying mainly Cobras, and i'd hate it to become so that I can't have an impact on the BGS compared to someone flying a big ship.
But with the missions as they are, you wont lose your impact.

A INF+++++ Mission that is Collect 4 Tons of space salvage is just as doable in a Cobra as a Bigger ship as an example
Running around doing a lot of courier missions might be something a small ship is better suited at, due to ease of flying, that a lumbering Trader or a Combat ship with short legs.
With the option rewards it is easy to find INF+ missions that you ship can do, and likely worth doing in your ship.
 
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Could be achieved with diminishing returns for larger amounts.
Also still tends towards the big ships. Let's say i can carry 16t in my Cobra, then someone in an Anaconda can carry 16t of one thing and 16t of another and 16t of another. It would still multiply.

Of course, big ships should have an advantage if talking about trade, which is why i think it needs to be ensured that smaller ships also have their roles. Maybe its not trade, maybe its not combat. Maybe smuggling or urgent courier missions.

But with the missions as they are, you wont lose your impact.

A INF+++++ Mission that is Collect 4 Tons of space salvage is just as doable in a Cobra as a Bigger ship as an example
Running around doing a lot of courier missions might be something a small ship is better suited at, due to ease of flying, that a lumbering Trader or a Combat ship with short legs.
With the option rewards it is easy to find INF+ missions that you ship can do, and likely worth doing in your ship.
Yes, that's kind of what i'm saying. As long as any changes ensure all ships maintain usability in terms of the BGS.
 
Not sure either system is better than the other from my point of view. Both systems push BGS into the realms of "big groups of players", as they can produce more "value" or "transactions" than a group with lesser players. To be honest this is probably fair, but the BGS can sometimes seem like which group leaders are better at herding sheep than actually playing a video game.

At least with the transaction system a smaller group could out "transaction" a larger group, although this thread reduces that possibility!

So I plump for the current system as I tend to play with the small groups. Hate the egos of the large groups, too much of that at work, avoid in my own time.

Cheers
Simon
 
While I can nod my head to a lot of what you are saying Walt, the problem with making it by value pushes people into the big ships.

In that case, missions at least need to be doable in small ships and have a comparable effect to other activities, although then there is the whole issue of stacking.

I'm now flying mainly Cobras, and i'd hate it to become so that I can't have an impact on the BGS compared to someone flying a big ship.
What is wrong about pushing people to big ships? This game should not be balanced around sidewinders really. This is the cause of many problems we have currently.

Maybe at least make it scale with rank. But value playing way less significant role than amount of transactions is simply bogus.
 
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To OP: Well, you are showing to us one of the basic problems FD has implemented into Elite. The whole transactional approach is and was a problem from the beginning. And - I refer to Planet Coaster, where the beauty of your park/ride is measured by the count of stuff you have placed, e.g. 100 trees on the same place - it looks like there are no other solutions to that. Or maybe solutions that are worth doing it (economical-wise).

A missing real economy and instancing also counts towards that.
 
While I can nod my head to a lot of what you are saying Walt, the problem with making it by value pushes people into the big ships.

In that case, missions at least need to be doable in small ships and have a comparable effect to other activities, although then there is the whole issue of stacking.

I'm now flying mainly Cobras, and i'd hate it to become so that I can't have an impact on the BGS compared to someone flying a big ship.
It doesn't do that at all. If people want to affect the BGS, they can still do it, but bigger ships will have bigger impact.

You're seriously going to argue that your Cobra should affect the BGS the same way another player's Cutter might affect it?

What is the point of using larger ships, from a BGS perspective, especially those that are primarily trade-based, if players can achieve the same effect in a Cobra?

This just makes no sense at all if you stop to consider it from a larger perspective.
 
What is wrong about pushing people to big ships? This game should not be balanced around sidewinders really. This is the cause of many problems we have currently.
Because it would be boring if everyone flew big ships?

All ships should have their uses. You don't send an aircraft carrier or battleship to sneak an elite team of snipers onto the mad scientist's island of doom, you use a small craft, probably a submerisble. And yet that small team can save the world from the scientist's ray of doom.
 
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