Under the Radar – development log #180

In this special edition of our weekly devlog, we’d like to take a moment and ponder the question of how to deal with cheating in Prosperous Universe. Let us know your thoughts!

You can find the full issue of the development log here: link

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Well that’s quite the conundrum you have there, glad it’s not me that has to come up with a solution. :stuck_out_tongue: The one thing is, how do you differentiate from what you describe and not a group of house hold members playing the game with each having their own account. I don’t think you can.

Another way to look at this is it’s the same as a group of people making an alliance to support one an-other’s companies. I’m sure it probably wouldn’t be as one sided as you describe, but it’s basically the same.

What is really going on is these people are cheating themselves out of game and missing the point. But, people cheat in all games, it seems that is the game for them. Unless, it is really destroying the economy, I think I would just let them play and eventually fizzle out from lack of interest, and put the dev time into other areas. It seems to me on average there are about 50 people playing concurrently, I think there are bigger fish to fry right now.

I agree with Lheiah at the moment: there are bigger fish to fry…

One (in my eyes) important idea was mentioned somewhere else:
make the “base package” non-tradeable.

Make a “base-CM” that is carried in the transporters that can only be built as the first base, or (even more general to use) have a “non-tradeable”-flag in the inventory! Then you can give new players whatever they need (prefabs, DW, RAT,…), but no one will be able to use it somewhere else than on their base…

You will then also have to take care of the money:

  • no money at start? where does it come from? where money comes from in real life: central banks…
  1. maybe let the CoGC offer loans to get money to the economy?
  2. pay the contributors to the CoGC instead of just donate the stuff?
  • maybe a “starter currency” and only that is allowed to buy from MM (just the most basic stuff, DW/RAT/prefabs) which (again) are non-tradeable?

By a mechanism like this, cheating is (in my eyes) harder: you would need to build a base and could only use what you harvest.

And just a thought for cheating in an “established” environment:
I also think that it is hard to distinguish between “two holdings” and just a family playing close together. Maybe before resetting, closing or anything else, you should get in contact with them. Depending on the age of the accounts, for “older” accounts maybe even have each account holder contact you via discord, phone or whatever before deleting years of play-time? Talk to them for ~1-5 minutes and let them explain? (this maybe would just work for paying customers? If they are clearly not two distinct people who also now the account (!ask details, e.g. “what about your collectors at Prom?” “which collectors?” “correct, there are none”…!), tell them what maybe they have to change.

I feel that I understand the sentiment behind the other two posts here, and I can’t help but to disagree.

Multi-Accounting is a massive grey area. On one hand, multi-accounts are prohibited under the community guidelines and whatever decision is reached here may have implications for the other entries in the community guidelines. If multi-accounting just gets a slap on the wrist, does automated data collection suffer the same consequences? Does botting?

On the other hand, it’s important to identify the scope and purpose of the alt/s. Does a player unfairly profit from this arrangement? What is the extent of their main and alt/s interaction? Is the alt/s profitable on its own accord? Is the alt/s used to manipulate prices or players? Does the alt/s provide something of value to the galaxy rather than just a tiny subset?

As others have identified, it’s often hard to tell the difference between a player who is multi-accounting and multiple players in the same location. However, I feel that mjeno is strictly referring to cases where multi-accounting has been established rather than as merely being suspected.

Above all, we should be asking “Who benefits?”. Is a whole group complicit? For example, if I were to create an alt specifically to provide a resource, that is unprofitable or not presently on the market, to GDP, would that make GDP complicit in my multi-accounting? Was the offending player acting under the tacit/explicit permission of their Corp?

My personal feelings about this issue lie in the answers to the questions above. If they are used to gain an unfair advantage or bring potential harm to others, whether by feeding a main account, manipulating other players or prices, or carrying on a business such that they would not be considered a going concern, then I feel the alt/s should be banned and the main be COLIQed with a warning.

If the alt/s is a legitimate business, does not infringe on other rules, and provides something of value, then under the current guidelines the alt/s should be banned and the main given a warning.

In the likely rarer cases of a group being complicit, it is harder to prove fault, but leadership should receive warnings as well to discourage tolerance of such behaviour.

I agree with mjeno that this is a good time to establish what is acceptable for this community - before we get to large for easy, direct communication.

Thank you guys for your contributions! :slightly_smiling_face:

Prosperous Universe is all about cooperation, and you may choose to cooperate closely with a select group of people. A small group working to benefit itself and each other is totally fine.

We can in some instances, but it’s true that it’s quite difficult. We would never take action if we weren’t 100% sure.

Your ideas are good, but they only solve a small portion of the problem, which is people creating a throwaway account to transfer their starting money and resources to their main. However, multi-accounts can be used long-term to systematically and continuously boost one’s main account, which does more harm and isn’t as easy to address.

Exactly! The questions I asked in the development log assumed that we already know beyond any doubt that we are looking at an instance of multi-accounting. The tools we have of finding multis are a different matter altogether, and I feel like that’s something we should be discussing internally.

That sounds like a fair way to go about it. If the main account has been boosted by an alt, then COLIQing it would undo some of the injustice (besides deleting the alt, of course).

In my eyes, it’s everyone’s personal responsibility to play by the rules. I would generally not punish anyone other than the offending player, but that would need to be decided on a case by case basis.

These offenses aren’t equally severe in my eyes, but you are probably right to stick to a broad distinction between “harmful” and “harmless” multi-accounting.

Cheers for the input. :smile: If anyone else wants to chime in, go ahead.

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Yeah, they are not equal. What I was hoping to convey was that harmful behaviour can consist of more than just materially benefiting. Because this is a social, cooperative game, there are immaterial factors that may also come into play.

About “punishment”… as the game is about cooperation…

In cases where cheating was detected, but just upto a certain degree, the punishment could be implemented in the game itself:

The “CoGC” could set a fine depending on the amount of cheating (e.g. the advantage that one took from it). This could result in a recurring fine (“1.000 ICA every week for 10 weeks”) or something alike… Also, players could be refused the effects of the CoGC (and even the voting-rights) for a certain time.

This way you have not only two choices (“delete/coliq” or “keep”) and could also fine “smaller” offences.