Friday, February 3, 2012

Chips Ahoy!

VFTD has discussed the Virtue chips in the past (for example here & here) and while I had intended to leave it at that until something new developed--and there are plenty of ideas in the pipeline--it seems that with the recent NPPL announcement of their intention to use the chips across all their non-pump divisions of play to enforce the ROF cap it has created--if not a firestorm of misinformation--a tiny tempest of confusion.
Instead of attempting to refute assorted misinformation I'm simply going to give you the facts as they stand today. Anything else you may hear will be either wrong, disinformation, conjecture or, at best, outcomes intended to be implemented some time in the future.
The chip can monitor a ROF cap. In this instance the cap is 15 bps. The chip can identify guns exceeding the cap, it does NOT enforce the cap. That remains a matter for the rules and rules enforcement. The chip does NOT identify bouncing, ramping or any other artificial shot adding. It does provide data that with experience and testing may suggest shots are being added but that falls into the category of data interpretation. The interpreter is a person, not the technology.
The chip can monitor ROF because it is recording each discharge from every monitored gun in real time. This has resulted, over the period of time the chip has been in trials--primarily by pro teams in both major leagues--in a substantial amount of raw data. The same kind of data that will accumulate across divisions in the NPPL during events assuming everything goes to plan. All current "information" within the data is a matter of interpretation and statistical analysis built on the firing of the guns in play.
Okay but what about the claims made by the NPPL? (here) (Which mostly fall in line with what Virtue has been promoting.) For example, what about the player stats? Player Effectiveness tracks how many of the opponents were eliminated while a given player remained active. Does that tell you that the active player was responsible for any of the eliminations? It does not. Even with an accumulation of data covering many games does the stat really confirm the effectiveness of a player? I don't think so. It may but at best it's inconclusive. Or how about the Stamina stat? Let's apply it to a lead snake player. Depending on his role he could easily be one of the first players eliminated routinely. Does that mean he isn't doing his job?
One thing the accumulated stats do allow for is comparisons. Alone a stat's value may be uncertain but since stats will exist for every player it should be possible to compare similar players or positions by stats in which case the data may prove valuable. I think the jury remains out on that too but it's a viable possibility.
The same applies to team and game stats. Yes, numbers and notions can be generated from the raw data but the question remains about the real utility of those numbers and notions. Unfortunately the stats don't generate themselves and part of the ongoing process will be in pulling the stats from the raw data.
I am, btw, pro stats. I think having bite size numbers and easy ways of looking at our game helps make it accessible. And some of the stats the chip offers may prove popular and if that's all the "stats" do they could still serve a valuable function. On the cautionary side claims made for the numbers aren't the numbers and the numbers, in my estimation, do not necessarily validate the claims made. All I'm suggesting is to look past the hype. Take the claims with a grain of salt and examine what the numbers are really all about. At worst it's harmless and at best it is a legit tool in rules enforcement and may provide new ways for people to think about the game.
Apart from functionality it seems to me a couple of other issues arise. In traditional 7-man it's relatively simple to keep track of guns & players. In the Race 2 format with the quick turnarounds and changing lines it may be a singular challenge to try and keep track of the gun (chip) / player association. And while chips can be installed in a minute or two it will almost certainly prove nearly impossible in Race 2 format matches to swap out the chips to different guns which means teams will likely need extras. If each specific chip isn't always associated with a specific player it poisons the data and the stats derived become unreliable so it's going to be a rather big deal trying to keep up with which chip is being used by which player in which game or point.


Anonymous said...

I find it amusing that NPPL is about to embark on a substantial effort to prove the league really is 15 bps ramping after all.

Baca Loco said...

I have heard that during testing there was some surprise at the number of guns still exceeding the cap when the teams/players knew the chip was in their guns.

It remains an open question how rigorously the league will choose to enforce the cap.

Mark said...

I like the simple cheat someone already came up with.

Anonymous said...

There's also the more advanced cheats. Since the board is self-installed, you just put another chip between it and the board that splits the signal between the ROFfi chip and the solenoid, and filters out any "extra" shots from going to the ROFfi chip.

Or just install a board with two ports, one for the solenoid and one for the ROFfi chip.

Anonymous said...

From ProPB comments:

It’s only going to be a couple months before this chip is rendered useless and people are shooting over the limit. So many ways to defeat this chip:

- Block the 2.4 GHz spectrum
- Rebroadcast the signals the chips are broadcasting to make it look like your opponents are shooting over the limit
- Make new gun boards with two solenoid plugs on them, only have the chip never send more than 15 bps to the 2nd plug and plug the ROFfi chip into that.
- Install the ROFfi chip in parallel with your solenoid, and add a switch that just turns the ROFfi chip off once you get on the field.

Anonymous said...

- It is a felony to possess any device that can jam communication over open airwaves. So you could also knife the ref if he pulls you, but that's also illegal...
- Intercepting and rebroadcasting signals (with your AWACS 747?) and splitting running off different ports, and doing other things to transmit are all fine ideas. But the ideas won't work for a variety of reasons and/or you'll get caught and presumably DQ'd and/or banned in short order anyway.

Anonymous said...

Oh and while you're at it... why don't you rig up one of those sweet ATM machine debit cards with a computer attached to it like that kid had in Terminator2, and start withdrawing cash out of any random bank account you like. Seriously, what are banks thinking with their foolish electrical systems, which are so easy to defeat thanks to so many smart people in the world who can just hack and defeat every electronic system simply by the shear tenacity of their blog comments?

Anonymous said...

The banks use encrypted signals. The ROFfi chip doesn't.

Nick Brockdorff said...

"AWACS 747"?!

Pity Russian Legion does not play NPPL - or that WOULD happen :D

Anonymous said...

The chip will be compromised and defeated. They're useless, novelty stats anyway. Only viable info you can derive from it is layout vs paint consumption, which in turn will either limit or allow the paint companies to sell more paint by screwing with the layouts.

Terminator Anon- will the FBI be standing adjacent to the refs? Jamming is illegal but so too is marijuana. Ironically no one enjoys burning a J more than the NPPL refs.

Anonymous said...

LOL you shoulda smelt the ref tent at HB last year!^^

the chip is for stats guys, if they wanted to hinder cheating the chip would need to be soldered to the micro switch also. they are not going that far with it.. yet

doesn't seem viable as an anti-cheating startegy, there are many easy ways around this chip in any league. Just be happy we are on the road to people being able to get their 'nerd' on over some stats. paintball could use a little hype

Missy Q said...

Let's not make out that there is a weed-aroma issue in one league and not the other. Also, stating that 'no-one enjoys burning a J more than the NPPL refs' is false. I can think of several industry figures that would make them look like teen-rookies.
The Virtue chip can probably be hacked with some effort & investment. My guess is for every 1000 people that say it's possible, there may be one that can actually pull it off. Talk is cheap. There needs to be a penalty for hacking though, obviously, but cheating scumbags are also not 'league-exclusive'.
I see this as one of several moves made by the NPPL in an attempt to improve their product. Some will pay off, some won't. I applaud any efforts to improve, from either camp.

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