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Jason Carr

Troubleshooting MAME High Scores

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Just now, Underoath13 said:

@Jason Carr

99% sure this guy is cheating with the dip switches or some other means, but probably the dip switches. Last time I looked he had a score of around 88,000, a far cry from the current score. If he's not cheating props to him, but nonetheless there is the issue with the dip switches.

I understand that the dip switches are stored in the cfg. Is there any way to check the cfg for code relating to a change in the dip switches? If not, on a more extreme measure that may not be so extreme if well implemented and people are warned ahead of time if they turn high score sharing on, the game specific cfg file could be deleted upon launch of the game to insure everyone is playing with default dip switches. As long as people are using a global cfg and understand that they need a global cfg in order to upload high scores, it seems like a pretty simple way to stop dipswitch cheating.

What do you think?

digdug leaderboard.PNG

That's not a bad idea. I wasn't aware of that being a possibility. I'll do some research on it and add that to my list. :)

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@GreatStone

First off want to say I love your work and greatly appreciate what you do!

So I was wondering about contacting you, does hi2txt at free.fr really mean hi2txt@free.fr like an email address? Because I'm not sure how to contact you.

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4 minutes ago, Jason Carr said:

That's not a bad idea. I wasn't aware of that being a possibility. I'll do some research on it and add that to my list. :)

Good to hear, let me know how that goes! 😀

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Quick question for everyone here, does anyone use the MAME game .cfg files for anything important or legitimate, other than changing jumper settings? Or does anyone use those files for important things like setting up controls? That's my biggest concern with deleting them in order to prevent cheating.

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12 minutes ago, Jason Carr said:

That's not a bad idea. I wasn't aware of that being a possibility. I'll do some research on it and add that to my list. :)

The dipswitch thing is definitely something that would be good to see if you can detect a change. You can easily change the difficulty mode, increase lives, decrease score amounts to earn extra lives.

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10 minutes ago, Jason Carr said:

Quick question for everyone here, does anyone use the MAME game .cfg files for anything important or legitimate, other than changing jumper settings? Or does anyone use those files for important things like setting up controls? That's my biggest concern with deleting them in order to prevent cheating.

Even if people do you use game cfg's for controls, they could keep different versions of default.cfg's and store them in their own folders, effectively acting as the game cfg's but just for control mappings. Then they could use a batch file to load them before a game with the additional apps function. And I imagine only a small handful of people's high score compatible games would need that treatment in the first place. And perhaps there's a more elegant solution that uses that basic idea.

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This is for Ms. Pac-man. The dip switches in Ms. Pac-Man only allow the advantage of 2 additional lives compared to default, and this same guy hasn't destroyed my score as with Dig Dug, which allows massive potential to cheat. Again, if this guy isn't actually cheating then no hard feelings, it just appears suspicious. 

mspacman leaderboard.PNG

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9 minutes ago, andyco47 said:

if people are gonna cheat no point in playing.

I understand, but we don't need that sort of negativity here. You already expressed this in a different thread. Please stop being negative.

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47 minutes ago, Jason Carr said:

Quick question for everyone here, does anyone use the MAME game .cfg files for anything important or legitimate, other than changing jumper settings? Or does anyone use those files for important things like setting up controls? That's my biggest concern with deleting them in order to prevent cheating.

Since I'm using a 8 button arcade control panel, ever game I play with MAME I've created a custom cfg layout to best match the layout of each game. 

33 minutes ago, Underoath13 said:

Even if people do you use game cfg's for controls, they could keep different versions of default.cfg's and store them in their own folders, effectively acting as the game cfg's but just for control mappings. Then they could use a batch file to load them before a game with the additional apps function. And I imagine only a small handful of people's high score compatible games would need that treatment in the first place. And perhaps there's a more elegant solution that uses that basic idea.

I'd rather just not worry about the high scores rather than messing around with something like that, but that's just my opinion.

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Okay, I will look into enforcing the cfg thing. I'm sure that we're going anger people no matter what we do at this point (just look at the whole Retroarch thing), but hopefully the cfg thing won't be a major issue for people.

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1 minute ago, Headrush69 said:

Since I'm using a 8 button arcade control panel, ever game I play with MAME I've created a custom cfg layout to best match the layout of each game. 

I'd rather just not worry about the high scores rather than messing around with something like that, but that's just my opinion.

I see, that's what I was worried about. Does it really require separate configurations for each and every game?

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21 minutes ago, andyco47 said:

if people are gonna cheat no point in playing.

People play for the fun of playing, if you are only playing for the hi scores i'd look into another hobby as games arent for you.

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6 minutes ago, Headrush69 said:

Since I'm using a 8 button arcade control panel, ever game I play with MAME I've created a custom cfg layout to best match the layout of each game. 

I'd also like to hear some more detail about this to better understand your situation.

 

8 minutes ago, Headrush69 said:

I'd rather just not worry about the high scores rather than messing around with something like that, but that's just my opinion.

Now that I think about it, instead of the whole batch file route, one could simply have a separate installation of MAME that they use for high scores. So two MAME emulators in launchbox, the one you've been using with all your custom cfg's, and another only mapped to global for arcade high scores. Just change the emulator on a per game basis when competing for high scores. A lot less steps than for batch files, and virtually no more work once its set up.

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1 minute ago, Jason Carr said:

I see, that's what I was worried about. Does it really require separate configurations for each and every game?

Pretty much yes. 

I have a 2 rows of 3 buttons, and a 3rd row offset of 2 buttons. In MAME general control, they are assigned buttons 1 - 8 in logical order, top to bottom, left to right. A fighting game might use the first six buttons, but a game like 1942 uses only 2. So if you stick to the general MAME control layout, in 1942 the user would have to use the first two buttons holding their hands over the other buttons. With a custom cfg, the bottom row of 2 buttons is used and much better ergonomically.

Jason, for me, if cfg scanning  is what is needed it wouldn't bother me.

 

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, neil9000 said:

People play for the fun of playing, if you are only playing for the hi scores i'd look into another hobby as games arent for you.

Agreed.

6 minutes ago, Underoath13 said:

Now that I think about it, instead of the whole batch file route, one could simply have a separate installation of MAME that they use for high scores. So two MAME emulators in launchbox, the one you've been using with all your custom cfg's, and another only mapped to global for arcade high scores. Just change the emulator on a per game basis when competing for high scores. A lot less steps than for batch files, and virtually no more work once its set up.

That just seems like a lot of work for minimal return. As neil9000 said, it's more a fun thing than a competition. I wouldn't want to have to choose which version to use thinking "OK, i'm playing for scores now"

Just imagine the sleepless nights I would have if I broke a high score and I was using the "fun" MAME and not the the high score version. Too much anxiety for this old heart. 😜

Edited by Headrush69

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5 minutes ago, Headrush69 said:

Pretty much yes. 

I have a 2 rows of 3 buttons, and a 3rd row offset of 2 buttons. In MAME general control, they are assigned buttons 1 - 8 in logical order, top to bottom, left to right. A fighting game might use the first six buttons, but a game like 1942 uses only 2. So if you stick to the general MAME control layout, in 1942 the user would have to use the first two buttons holding their hands over the other buttons. With a custom cfg, the bottom row of 2 buttons is used and much better ergonomically.

Jason, for me, if cfg scanning  is what is needed it wouldn't bother me.

Thanks, I appreciate that, but not everyone in your situation would be as gracious. Are you sure there's no way to set up default buttons globally, so that it behaves better without configuring every game?

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, Jason Carr said:

Thanks, I appreciate that, but not everyone in your situation would be as gracious. Are you sure there's no way to set up default buttons globally, so that it behaves better without configuring every game?

Could be but it would really take looking at all the games that support high scores and seeing how many are customized and could be changed to a less optimal more general layout.

You  would also see issues with people  that use multi-mouse support in a game like Marble madness. If you assume a default mouse1 devices, and someone with a cabinet has a spinner or trackball, it's very likely that device is mouse2 and they have a changed cfg. Lots of scenarios like that is well.

Only method I could see would be building a database of specific settings that could affect games. Usually that just lives, and bonuses. The problem with that is someone would have to curate that and that's a lot of work. 

IMHO, it's a cool community thing and if someone is going to cheat for some type of gratification, so be it. You have also implemented weekly hi scores, so you can always look to that more for fun. Highly unlikely "cheaters" are going to keep playing every week to maintain their "status"

Edited by Headrush69

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, Headrush69 said:

IMHO, it's a cool community thing and if someone is going to cheat for some type of gratification, so be it. You have also have weekly hi scores, so you can always look to that more for fun. Highly unlikely "cheaters" are going to keep playing every week to maintain their "status"

My concern with that is if one person cheats, many more may follow to keep up with the originally inflated score. Then next thing you know all the scores are inflated. THAT would be no fun at all.

In order to keep the community somewhat competitive, even if not super serious, I think it'd be pretty important to stop dipswitch cheating. I think people who really want to compete won' have a problem at all with following a few extra steps and rules. Generally, people who care about high scores wont mind the extra steps, and people who don't really care about high scores won't be that upset about it.

Of course, if cfg scanning could work that would be optimal, I just don't know enough about it to know if its possible or practical.

Edit: And perhaps there's a possible way to delete dip switch specific code from the cfg, if that in any way would be easier than scanning the cfg and preventing a high score upload.

Edited by Underoath13

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, Jason Carr said:

I'm sure that we're going anger people no matter what we do at this point (just look at the whole Retroarch thing), but hopefully the cfg thing won't be a major issue for people.

I second this. The very nature of high scores is competition, and allowing incredibly easy ways to cheat does kind of defeat the purpose. There will always be something someone doesn't like, but again, competition is the very nature of high scores, in which without it it wouldn't exist. Even when you try to beat your own high score, you are still effectively competing against yourself.

 

Edited by Underoath13

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