Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (long)

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radiant
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Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (long)

Post by radiant » 01 Jun 2010, 20:59

(I'm posting in the bug forum because of the subject matter, but the discussion may be better suited for somewhere else. If so, go ahead and move it.)

This is a topic that arose a long time ago in TMW terms, and not all of you may remember it, or remember it very well. For those of you who want to discuss it, here's a recap.

There was a bug whereby you could drop an item that was currently equipped, equip something else on the same slot, and pick up the first item. The next time you loaded a map, this would cause the two items to get mixed up, and your effective equipment in that slot would have some traits of the first and other traits of the second (though nothing from both).

Over fourteen months ago, this interaction was fixed on the server side, citing a couple of mechanical abuses that weren't possible except by using it:
-it took weapon damage and range (when they exist) from #2, but armor class from #1, so you could mix a shield and a bow and get each one's effect, meaning a bow fighter could get all the armor of a sword fighter but with the added range (albeit with the ammo restriction)
-weapon type was also inherited from #1, so that the bow fighter could forgo having that shield, but instead mix it with a bladed weapon to get its damage and lack of need for ammo, while keeping the range they're used to

When weapons aren't involved in the mix-up, though, the interaction is fairly routine. The mixed-up item has the spritesheet of #2 and everything else of importance comes from #1: armor, magic modifier, and even equip script (for stat-changing items like cat ears, so there wasn't even a way to cheat that for multiple agility bonuses). In effect, the incarnations of the bug that don't involve weapons are purely cosmetic.

So anyway, ever since the named commit, any attempt to drop an equipped item results in the item becoming unequipped first, which prevents new instances of items becoming confused in this way. However, this on its own didn't cause existing setups of illusionary equipment to revert themselves; they wouldn't revert until a practitioner changed or dropped the equipment they had in an affected slot. In the days following the fix, there was a crackdown on players demonstrating distance hits with blade animations, and most of the players who once used it for armor disguising eventually got caught up in one of the many fashion trends that swept the game in the year since. In fact, I believe that after this long, the number of surviving instances of illusionary equipment in the game is one.
Image

And now the powers-that-be are wanting to reduce the number to zero, citing an earlier discussion they had among their ranks. I take it this was in the (a?) GM forum; in any case I wasn't able to see it, much less chime in with the decidedly unique perspective I have on the matter.

Again, I think it's important to note that none of the functional aspects of the outfit depicted in the above screenshot are out of the realm of the ordinary; in the equipment window on the right, the boxes surrounding the sprite show all the underlying items that were disguised, and all the derived stats are consistent with having just those items (including the 400+ penalty to magic...the arrows don't even factor into anything without a weapon designed to use them). The only difference is that it looks nicer.

So why do I remain the sole holdout and why do I take my case here? For one, I would lose much of my in-game identity otherwise. There are only so many ways for a character to stand apart in a game like this, and even fewer when you discount ways that are destructive of play and result in getting banned or universally shunned by the community. Handing out charitability and advice can help one become more memorable, and that's certainly something I partake in from time to time to the extent that resources allow it (to this day, I've never had a mule or other secondary character, or even a 7-digit GP total). Many characters even have a signature look to them, so that their friends, associates, or even new players who simply received an early jumpstart from them will recognize them more easily. A lot of times they settle on that choice because they just like the way it makes them look--in my case it's the closest to my ideal appearance I can get with extant TMW equipment, and nothing released in the past year has changed that. Not everyone, however, can take their signature appearance into the heart of battle with the fiercest enemies the game has to offer (at least not if they want to live for more than a few seconds), and such sights in combat may well be even more memorable than in the calm of the town square. (I can't be sure of this psychological aspect for everyone in the game, but that's why it's a post in a public forum.)

So at least for the time being, the fact that someone looking like me can, say, find someone being chased by loads of skeletons, save them by pulling the skeletons away, and proceed to wear the monsters down with impunity is truly a unique talent, even if there's no functional difference from a character doing the same with a stereotypical tank appearance. This concept of inimitability strikes me as the primary source of perceived value in games of this strain, and there are only a few characters who can actually claim that: GMs, possessors of one-off items like the crown and golden plate (and of course the dark talisman), and bot characters (like TradeBot) who have their restrictions lifted by special dispensation.

However, whatever value comes from that is strictly personal; the items in question are totally illiquid since they can't be traded without losing their unique capabilities forever. In that sense it's a different kind of uniqueness from "I bought a Superman #1 comic some 70 years ago and now it's worth a lot of money!" If the supply somehow goes back up, the comic collector will certainly face a lost opportunity and depreciation in its value, while I've still had 14 months of a nice experience in any case and can't rightfully encourage barriers to entry to a practice like mine--just responsibility for my own character decisions. In fact, I think it's good reason to formalize an in-game avatar system, whereby there would be separate "stat slots" and "appearance slots" for equipment, and anyone would be able to take their favorite appearance without regard to how weak it would have left them under the system we use now, without having to use a bona fide bug that had been fixed with good reason, and without having to settle on one way to look and commit to it for over a year.

A nice thing about virtual worlds like ours is that the binding of form to function is much more easily dispelled than in the physical counterpart. For instance, there's no requirement for forum avatars to be our actual photos, and in practice it only rarely ends up being such. When we clearly have the technical ability to separate the two, and the game has shown no propensity to stick to a realistic world (even outside the presence of magic), why not rechristen the cosmetic alterations as a sanctioned feature which can be accessed by ordinary means?

If anyone has anything more to say to this, I probably do too. But until then, you can have some time to finish reading.
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Re: Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (lo

Post by Matt » 01 Jun 2010, 21:50

I did not catch this, but it's nice to see that still from time to time players find some bug which they have fun tinker around with.
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Re: Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (lo

Post by Cotillion » 01 Jun 2010, 22:12

For those of you wanting to dig... you can find more details here.
http://forums.themanaworld.org/viewtopi ... =12&t=6314

Still 14 months later, I want this bug completely gone. If there are aspects of this defect that should be added to increase gameplay and interest in TMW by increasing the uniqueness of our avatars like radiant is wanting, they should be added. Not abused via a bug DEV deemed fixing. I have a hard time accepting that any abuse of a bug, even a minor one, is acceptable.
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Re: Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (lo

Post by radiant » 02 Jun 2010, 17:16

If there are aspects of this defect that should be added to increase gameplay and interest in TMW by increasing the uniqueness of our avatars like radiant is wanting, they should be added. Not abused via a bug DEV deemed fixing.
Sure, as long as the feature is actually there. Otherwise it's like a mandatory update to a KDE 4.0 release.

For anyone who knows the server code (because I don't yet), what would have to be involved if I wanted to add support for this as a feature? Would the process be much different on the eA side from on the Mana side?
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Re: Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (lo

Post by Jaxad0127 » 02 Jun 2010, 19:47

radiant wrote:
If there are aspects of this defect that should be added to increase gameplay and interest in TMW by increasing the uniqueness of our avatars like radiant is wanting, they should be added. Not abused via a bug DEV deemed fixing.
Sure, as long as the feature is actually there. Otherwise it's like a mandatory update to a KDE 4.0 release.

For anyone who knows the server code (because I don't yet), what would have to be involved if I wanted to add support for this as a feature? Would the process be much different on the eA side from on the Mana side?
More equipment is purely a content issue. If you're talking about disguises and such, the client needs to (And doesn't atm) support them.
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Re: Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (lo

Post by radiant » 03 Jun 2010, 00:18

Where does the client get the values that tell it which sprites to display for each character? We already know it displays mine without a hitch, so what kinds of new variables would we need to add for an untainted disguise mechanism?
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Re: Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (lo

Post by Jaxad0127 » 03 Jun 2010, 06:03

Well, technically, it'll work already. The server tells the client what equipment the character is wearing (or at least what it should show them wearing). But proper support (which will be under manaserv, not tmwAthena) would send both, at least to the character in question.
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Re: Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (lo

Post by radiant » 10 Jun 2010, 00:31

So what's broken about it right now with regard to how it handles my character data?

Suppose I wanted to add a button on the item window next to "Equip", labeled "Dress". Equip would work as it does now, affecting both the character stats behind the scenes and the physical appearance, while Dress would only change the latter. Of course this would be a rather simple change to inventorywindow.cpp on the client side, where it just needs to generate some kind of packet to tell the server to call some function. My question is, how much would need to change to get the server to handle that hypothetical packet?
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Re: Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (lo

Post by Crush » 10 Jun 2010, 05:52

So you are asking us to turn a bug into a feature?

No, i think that the appearance of a character should reflect its equipment.
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Re: Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (lo

Post by Cotillion » 10 Jun 2010, 06:11

Crush wrote:So you are asking us to turn a bug into a feature?

No, i think that the appearance of a character should reflect its equipment.
So can we finally fix the bug by making people unequip everything when they login? Or grant GM's authority to take suspects to botcheck and force them to drop all?
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Re: Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (lo

Post by natsuki3 » 08 Jul 2010, 17:55

so katze is a scammer ?
Its blue like the sea.
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Re: Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (lo

Post by radiant » 09 Jul 2010, 02:05

No, Katze is a GM acting in official capacity. However, if this policy decision goes through, it can't be undone at a later date, so I was asking for public consideration rather than what's in the GM-only forum.

Crush: Should our forum avatars be required to be RL personal photos? Presumably you don't want us misjudging each other's appearances...And yes, there have been bugs that were sanitized just enough to be officially adopted as features. (Maybe not yet in TMW, but definitely not unheard of in software development.) Why not this? It's not like the fast-attack bug where it increases the potential rate of leveling beyond what's possible without it (at least when the weapon slots are excluded); just a possible aesthetic benefit to those involved.

To anyone with filesystem-level access to the server: Is there any chance you could PM me a copy of just my line in the players file so I can figure out what exactly is responsible for this character peculiarity?
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Re: Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (lo

Post by addict » 17 Jul 2010, 21:07

This bug still exists. I have reported it repeatedly and now just 'use it'.
Ignore these four words.
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Re: Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (lo

Post by MadCamel » 18 Jul 2010, 05:48

Being the one that "fixed" this (idk why jax* said Wombat), I purposefully didn't add code or write a script to unequip confused items for many of the reasons you described.

If someone manages to keep their character glitched for a prolonged period, more power to them. Most have succumbed to fashion changes etc by now, and I think those that have not should be allowed to continue.

Unfortunately, some GMs have set a (in my opinion bad) precedent in forcing people to unequip themselves if they are using this bug for weapons or armor. I don't see any rule that says "don't use the bugs you find" anywhere..

In fact I think finding/using bugs adds an additional and very fun element to gameplay. Go ahead and "cheat", it's fun to find flaws in the system! If the bug is widespread enough, it'll eventually get patched in a way that a developer feels comfortable with, and that's that.

I sort of doubt many on the development team will agree with the above views.. But I support radiant on this, and wish the GMs hadn't unequipped everyone they found using this bug.

[edit]
In fact, it's rather easy to modify one's client to not attack unless a monster is within the range of a dagger weapon - with the current limited commands I believe it's damn near impossible for a GM to determine if the bug is being used subtly.
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Re: Reflecting on the equipped drop bug, 14 months later (lo

Post by Jaxad0127 » 18 Jul 2010, 18:25

MadCamel wrote:Being the one that "fixed" this (idk why jax* said Wombat)
Where did I say that? Also, we've had to "fix" this multiple times.
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