Ponysport…what IS cheating?

I ask this question after a series of rather unseemly rows and the upheaval of at least one stable in SL. The matter is discussed elsewhere on this blog and I do not intend to rake over the ashes of it here.

Rather I wonder just what is considered to be cheating in SL Ponysport? There have been a number of tweaks introduced into Third Party Viewers (of which Firestorm is merely the most popular, by no means the only one) that have permitted some alterations in the way certain animations are played. Previously I thought that these effects were purely for the benefit of the user of the viewer and had no impact inworld (i.e. in SL). I now know this not to be so.

So…what IS cheating? Well, firstly there are guidelines set down by the leading lights of SL ponysport: these tending to be trainers, owners and part-time ponies and they mostly centre around the use of an animation referred to as “quickjump”. This removes the “pre-jump” animation from the jumping animation series and is self-evidently faster. There are detection systems incorporated into many steeple start-gates in order to detect its use (more accurately to detect the use of “pre-jump”). The use of the facility of some TPVs to speed up animation sets is not easily detected (although I have been shown ways to detect its use) and it confers quite an advantage to the user over the course of a (say) 25 jump course. Outside of this there are HUDs and other scripted items that can alter the speed at which an avatar moves around the sim, these again can be detected and their use barred. The simplest, of course, is the device that detects if an avatar is running rather than walking on a course and this is universally used. So that covers some (though I am sure not all) of the movement “enhancements” that can be used.

But then there is the matter of “ping” or rather the length of time taken for a signal to make the round trip from user to SL and back. This is naturally greater for users in Europe and further afield from SL and can also depend on the Internet Service Provider, since the number of “hops” a signal takes varies from ISP to ISP irrespective of geographic location. For some users it even varies depending on the time of day. None of these matters are within the scope of SL Ponysport to alter, unless one is to adopt a “handicap” system for users with low pings! (Quite how that would be assessed and applied is beyond me.) The simple fact is that the higher your “ping” value the longer it takes for the animation-set of a jump to play due the sequential nature of the action – this can result in up to three seconds per 30-jump steeple for some ponies, either way, dependent on their location geographically.

Render-weight and script-level of avatars is another factor, and one which I have no doubt would cause a good deal of controversy were a “default” to be applied. This is one factor that is beyond the control of many RLV-equipped ponies (I speak as one).

Whether different animation overriders confer advantages is something I am not qualified to assess, but I gather some thought has been given to establishing a “default”.

Finally the quality of connection and hardware rears its head and this is one factor that really IS beyond the purview of SL ponysport. We use what we have, most of us cannot afford specialist equipment for SL (I admit that my system is perhaps better and more expensive than many, but that was MY choice). ISPs largely are not a factor that any of us can control.

SL is a world where individual expression is a central factor and any attempt to “normalise” competition is bound to raise objections. I offer no solutions in writing this, I am just listing factors that can and almost certainly DO play a part in our sport.

So…what IS cheating? I asked and no, I didn’t answer, at least not directly. What is YOUR view? (Assuming that you have one!).

~ by Ayesha Askham-Ezvalt on August 4, 2014.

One Response to “Ponysport…what IS cheating?”

  1. This website really has all of the information and facts I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

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