Sunday, March 1, 2009

Moonbats, Drillbits & Semiauto

I'm not normally one to let the (gross) stupidity of others agitate me. It can even be entertaining but there is one subject that drives me to the brink of gleeful homicide--the blindly willful utter nonsense spouted by the "semi-auto" advocacy crowd. By the way, this includes a few friends of mine so y'all please feel free to delude yourselves that little bit more and believe I mean everybody but you. No. Really, I do. Thanks.
It started when I was skimming a long thread at the Nation--yes, I realize I brought it on myself--devoted to speculation about the (then) upcoming changes at the PSP. More than a few posters just had to toss in the opinion that what the PSP needed was preferably uncapped semi-auto (just like those other guys who went bankrupt!) "But it wasn't because of semi-auto." No, that was just one in a long list of boneheaded decisions.
Everybody is entitled to an opinion--even an idiotic one--but this particular brand of paintball superstition is like being a member of the Flat Earth Society and really believing the Earth is flat. Or participating in Renaissance festivals because you are convinced you really are Richard the Lionheart reincarnate.
Hey Tulip, you're nutty as a fruitcake!

If you've been living in a cave maybe I better explain. Like Knights of the Round Table (or in this case, Empty Head) there are some die hard fantasists forever chasing the semi-auto Holy Grail of one pull, one shot. True semi-auto (as if such a beast existed in the era of the micro-processor and electronic gun) is a swell dream but fails – no matter how often the faithful insist--to correspond with reality. The truth is the majority of diehards don't actually understand how their guns work even if they can use the right words to construct a seemingly coherent sentence. If they did they wouldn't be Knights of the Empty Head. For starters their trigger pull doesn't actually discharge their marker. The proprietary software in the micro-processor on their board 'reads' a signal from the switch--which can be any one of a number of different types of switches--and decides what to do about the received signal and the result can vary as widely as the parameters of the software allow. And, of course, within that process the micro-processor tells the gun when to shoot, not you. Then there are the assorted forms of actuation that are 'mistakes.' Stuff like bounce, both mechanical and switch. Every software package in the business has filters designed to minimize, to varying degrees, the 'mistakes.' But guess what. All you semi-auto is a skill clowns set your filters to the lowest possible 'legal' setting because, miraculously, your skill improves when the filters interfere as little as possible.
And it's even worse than you know because there are (and have been) manufacturers who swear on your mother's life that their software is pristine and innocent and would never intentionally add a shot or three or six. After, of course, offering the standard pious disclaimer about user error. Yet it does--and many of you like it that way because you've worked ever so hard to develop your "skill." Still, these disciples of the true semi-auto continue to insist that semi-auto is pure paintball and that ramping is an evil corruption despite the indisputable evidence that all electronic guns add shots and the only real quibble is over the definition of intentional and unintentional.
One thing we can agree on is that if such a thing as true semi-auto existed in the modern game it would be better than capped, ramping guns. But the place you gotta start to see that happen is with sufficient standardization across the manufacturers so that the gun you're shooting is essentially identical to the one Joe Bob is shooting. At that point you can reintroduce the idea of skill again. And trust me, most of you semi-auto worshipers aren't gonna like that one little bit.*

*First appeared in issue #9 of Welt


Michael said...

I would be interested to know your position bumping the number of pulls for psp mode. Upping them to something like, idk, 10.5

IMO it is dangerous to have guns firing more shots then the person is "pulling" (* hard to make this comment, given how much error is already in the system) however, at 10-12 its hard for TOO many shots to be added without the ref knowing, and it should shut alot of people on every side of the fence up.

It would be better for players at every level, EVERY LEVEL.

I'm pretty sure this debate is almost pointless IMO. USPL will likely never cap thier guns, and PSP won't raise the trigger pulls. Only (major) league who might listen would be.... NCPA.

chad said...


Baca Loco said...

I think there are two issues to consider. One is how the "extra" shots are generated and two, the methodology the PSP uses to regulate ROF. If the "extras" are because of the ramping mode that's what is supposed to happen though some folks are concerned about the two or three shots after the trigger is released as a practical play of the game issue I don't think that is a big deal. If the "extras" come from either illegal modes or, let's call it, poor set-up it's a different issue. Realistically, at least in the tourney environment, these aren't of concern to capped ramping enforcement. They are a concern, a potentially serious concern, to any other enforcement effort. And of course they pose some measure of hazard. The one that concerns me the most is ramping velocity and I don't think there is much, if any, of that going on.
With repsect to the idea of essentially making PSP something closer to capped semi-auto the issue becomes enforcement. Given that what is being checked is the gap timing between any two shots the software would have to be programmed to acknowledge and respond only to actual pulls but it would also have regulate the firing in a way that it woldn't exceed the allowable gap timing. The potential problem with this is say you can pull 13 or 14 but only 10.5 is legal. You work thew trigger then stop but the gun shoots as many times as you pulled the trigger. The result could easily be shots released well after you stopped pulling the trigger. I'm not saying it can't be done but it isn't a simple fix.

raehl said...

There are two choices:

Ramping, and uncaught ramping.

Michael said...

Baca, I see your point. Knowing abit about how my board works there is actually a setting called "hold_delay". THis is how long an "extra" shot is held past the point of the activiation. One of the "practical" aplications of this is that your gun will bounce (see 3 or more activations) but will not fire the gun again until several miliseconds later, then repeat, even if you haven't succesfully added more activations. Then you can also set up how many activations will be stored, up to 3 (i think. BTW it is a T-board for the ION). This is how many shots will "stack" on top of each other. In PSP this is the number they limit to 3 (or they did)

My point is here; capping semi gives you two VERY good ways to catch cheaters; time between shots and a gun that is giving additional activations. You reign in the crazy bounces that come into effect at 14+, still have respect for a nice healthy wall of paint, and still have to have the "skill" of at least making the pretense at keeping a gun in semi-auto.

wanna do a little fun experiment? Take your standard semi auto gun. Set it up so that even though you pull 12-13 (what I think I pull) that it shoots 15-16, without "Sounding/testing/feeling" like its bouncing or would be pulled in the NCPA or USPL. (for me, I have moved to my ego) Now Cap it at 12. IT is MUCH harder to keep the gun at a consistant 12 then it is to keep it in PSP mode (obvisouly). This added level of difficulty is what many people compalain will be taken out of the game.

Now try, with your standard board, to have the gun help you stay at 12. This is the gray are we (baca and chrs)(as people legitametlly worried about ROF and how it effects the growth of paintball) are worried about when we talk about the benefits of ramping over semi.

Said another way, we are worried that people will be in the "gray" between PSP and Capped semi, and that the gray will be a new form of cheating, and it will be just as hard to catch and just as harmful.

Both are wrong; it is EASIER to catch, and it will be a much less significant form of cheating.

IT is VERY difficult to be in the gray, and not be able to catch the person on it. YOu can tell when you shoot a stream, break, and keep shooting if the gun is "holding" shots.

If you are pulling 8, and it is shooting 12 then you can tell. You can pull these people when checking thier guns.

If you are shooting over the limit (12.5? 15.5?) You will be pulled by a PAC.

The only thing you can NOT tell is if you are pulling 10 and the gun is shooting 12. This is where there is a real concern of cheating, and let me tell you something; it will happen but it is better then the alternatives.

Capped semi auto gives us the most tools to catch ramping out there. Don't throw in the towel quite yet, and ignore referee's discretion, and ability on the field.

Finnally, for people pulling 13/14, shots cannot be stored for more then 1/2 of the activation time and no more then one can be added on the stack.

Anonymous said...

My last sentance was in response to your last sentence, however re reading your comment for the third time I think you might be a bit confused on how most boards work (at least the ones I have used). It is VERY rare to have a semi-auto mode that stores shots, I just happened to have one of those boards.

Of course, these storing shots will come up as we move towards capped-semi auto, but how we deal with them is regarded in my last sentence.

Finnally, all the polls agree; PSP vs Semi-Auto is a very evenly divided crowd. However, I would bet that if you asked any of the PSP shills what the second best choice would be? They would say Semi-capped. Same goes for the opposite crowd. You know why? it is the great paintball compromise.

Baca Loco said...

Three things, Micheal. One, thanks for the thoughtful comments. Two, how do you pull a gun in capped semi-auto if it doesn't exceed the cap? As a practical matter all you've done is exchange haphazard and unenforceable rules for one that you think you can enforce. And if the cap is 15 bps you aren't enforcing how they get to 15, only that they don't exceed it but you're still stuck with enforcing that cap.
Three, the stored shot issue is more a safety issue to my mind but as to its rarity, in any mode, there are boards out there that do things they don't advertise. :)

Does that mean you endorse uncaught ramping? :)

raehl said...

It means given the choice between 15 bps ramping and uncaught ramping that I can, with good enforcement techniques, keep down to 10-20% above semi-auto, I'll take the uncaught ramping as the lesser evil.

Now that 10 BPS is readily available on all guns, NCPA may move to 10 BPS for the '09-'10 season. We are going to take one last crack at semi-auto enforcement at Nationals. I don't have very high hopes it will work, but it would be nice to be surprised.

I've also been having the conversation that we would go to 8 BPS ramping *OR* NCPA-certified semi-auto boards. That would require manufacturers to offer a board with readable software though. I doubt that happens before 2011, but at least the market has gotten to the point where you can't sell guns on ROF anymore so the manufacturers are a bit less sensitive about the code on their boards and shouldn't have too much trouble providing a simple pull trigger-check eyes-fire paintball readable software version for tournament use.


Capped semi-auto *IS* ramping. The only difference is whether the league pretends they're enforcing anything other than the BPS limit and thus whether you're at risk of a random hard-core penalty because a particular ref thinks your gun's semi-auto isn't semi-auto enough.

And all a 50-50 split shows is that 50% of people don't understand how their guns work.

Anonymous said...

"How do you pull a gun in Capped semi-auto if it doesnt exceed the cap"?

The same way the semi-auto leagues are doing it now.

I would take semi-auto capped at 10.5 LONG before i threw in the towel for ramping, and I think a good bunch of people would agree with me. As chris said, the uncaught rampingis only about 15-20%, so people would still have to pull 8 or 9. That is actually not that easy while your running around trying not to get shot and do things effectively.

raehl said...

There is more to it than just the 15-20%. The problem isn't one of rate, it's one of FAIRNESS. With ramping, everyone's gun is operating the same, and you have predictable, definitive enforcement. Either your gun is over the limit or it isn't.

That isn't true for any semi-auto enforcement currently. We can get it so that most guns are within 15-20% of true semi auto. But that misses the point - the guns are not set up FAIR. Some people's guns will be pushing the 20%. Some will be legit semi-auto. Some will get caught. Some won't. So yeah, the speed is close to semi-auto, but the enforcement is still a big mess.

And what is the benefit of that mess? Nothing. All you get is less fairness.

Chris said...

If we move to capped semi, you are just going to have guys build boards that ramp in semi then turn off... Much like we did before..

I am by no means a genious, or even bright for that matter.. Just some punk kid from the outskirts of pittsburgh.. If I can build a cheater board anyone can...