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MaxL_1023

The Ethics of XVM

XVM  

231 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you use XVM?

    • Yes
      186
    • No
      44
    • What is XVM?
      1
  2. 2. Do you feel the influence of XVM on gameplay is...

    • Strongly Positive
      19
    • Generally Positive
      76
    • Neutral
      45
    • Generally Negative
      62
    • Strongly Negative
      19
    • I Don't Know
      10
  3. 3. Is XVM "fair" as presently incarnated?

    • Yes
      75
    • "Technically"
      71
    • Unsure/Mixed Opinion
      47
    • No
      27
    • I Don't Know
      11


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     (Author's Note: If the discussion surrounding this thread indicates sufficient interest, I will ask RBS to let me create an article on this topic including the community response and a range of opinions from different player backgrounds in addition to an elaboration of the arguments presented here)

 

     XVM is likely the most popular addition to the standard World of Tanks client ever designed and implemented. It allows a wide range of information about both friendly and enemy players to be displayed within a battle. The ability to display player win rate, WNX, percentile rank, games played and potentially other statistics (such as match win percentage) allows a user to get an accurate picture of all the participants of any particular battle. Subsequently, the user can adjust their play accordingly to (in their mind anyways) maximize the chance of a win. However, the very information which many players effectively use can also be misused. The frequency of this misuse (when high enough) deteriorates the gameplay experience of a substantial fraction of the population, and can therefore be harmful to the game. The intention of this topic is for the discussion and analysis of the ethics surrounding the use of the XVM mod, and the influence it has (both positive and negative) on the gameplay experience of both users and non-users.

 

A Numbers Game

 

     The information provided by XVM has legitimate use in the arena of battle. Generally, the statistics of any particular player can be used to anticipate their behavior and overall contribution to the match. In any particular vehicle, players of a certain rating often fall into a predictable behavior pattern. Combine this predictability with a complete picture of the team's distribution of player ratings and you can with fair confidence anticipate the general flow of a battle. Comparing the composition of the enemy team to your own can be used to predict the results of map engagements almost before they occur, allowing the user to proactively counter a negative result. Essentially, a skilled XVM user can maintain a significant statistical advantage. They will not be right all of the time, but over hundreds or thousands of battles their wealth of information will tell. However, an important question needs to be asked: Is the possession and use of this information ethical, and what effect on general gameplay does XVM have?

 

     The initial question involves the "fairness" of this information access. All of the information provided by XVM can be freely accessed by any player, either from the WoT client or websites such as WoTlabs or Noobmeter. However, what XVM offers is a packaged, condensed set of this information applied to every participant in a battle. Essentially, it does the work for you by presenting this information in a condensed format. Additionally, this information is provided within the battle itself - an option which is not possible without using a client modification. As XVM is a free, legal mod the ethics of use do not revolve around "pay2win." However, the very nature of the information provided raises important questions. Did WarGaming ever intend for players to access information in this manner? Based on the effects of XVM use I have witnessed, I have to say "no."

 

     XVM use provides a demonstrable advantage. Knowing the relative skill levels of every participant of a battle allows a skilled player to adapt their play accordingly. Essentially, XVM when properly used is a tool to amplify the user's skill, allowing them to provide a stronger positive influence on their team. This degree of information access blunts an element of randomness associated with matchmaker. Originally, any player would have no other information about the other battle participants other then their name and tank. To anticipate their actions, awareness of the flow of battle combined with any previous experience with the player was required. Due to the large number of active players, previous knowledge was negligible. Communication was required to coordinate. However, an XVM user does not need such a body of knowledge. The statistical breakdown of the players in battle correlates to behavior, both at a tactical and strategic level. Essentially, you no longer need to know the names of players - only their stats. 

 

Reacting to Ratings

 

     This enumeration of the playerbase has had a widespread influence on gameplay - one which I feel has been negative. The "proper" use of XVM to influence personal play is not the root of this degeneration. In fact, I suspect that the influence it has is negligible, as the majority of players who are capable of properly utilizing the information XVM provides are clustered on the right tail of the skill distribution, making up a very small percentage of the populace. I suspect that the majority of battles are won and lost without a single user on either side using XVM for anything more advanced then target selection. However, this in itself is a use which I feel has a negative effect on gameplay. The ability to correctly identify the best players on either team has resulted in a culture where player skill directly diminishes gameplay experience. 

 

Purple Persecution

 

     Essentially, XVM users focus down players with high ratings. This manifests itself in manifold ways. Artillery fire clusters around the highest rated player as opposed to the easiest to hit, or even the player in the best position to damage the enemy team. Players in the middle range of rating will focus their fire on high rated players, often forcing a numerically unfavorable trade which they feel is justified when weighting the skill of the high rated player into account. Tanks with an autoloader or high alpha gun often suicide simply to inflict damage on a high rated player. In most cases, this trade is at best neutral to the battle result - focusing on the high rated player results in the remainder of their team "picking up the slack" due to reduced combat pressure. Based on experience, the final impact of this XVM use is either neutral, or biased in favor of the high rated players due to an overestimation of the effectiveness of focus fire, or simply an incorrect or inefficient application. However, secondary to the battle result is the effect these tactics have on the gameplay experience of high rated players. 

 

     It is not fun to be focused by artillery. The same applies to being suicide rushed by an autoloader with premium ammunition loaded. These are tactics which are sound in a 1v1 engagement - a lower rated player can often obtain the highest damage ratio simply by a direct, headlong rush. Under normal combat conditions, the high rated player may be essentially immune to damage due to armor, positioning, vision control or terrain abuse. To negate this advantage, you need to close to point blank range, load premium rounds, or resort to artillery fire. These tactics have been shown to be strategically unsound - instead of forcing a mediocre ratio against a high rated player, it is often better for your team to fight more effectively against middle or lower ranked players, leading to a numerical advantage later in the game. From the perspective of the high rated player, their experience is diminished. Even though their win ratio is nearly unaffected, they are now forced to change their gameplay to respond to XVM users. 

 

     XVM use forces high rated players into extremes. They either need to be so aggressive that they are taking attention due to their positioning, or passive enough to avoid direct fire. In a match with artillery, areas of the map which lack hard cover are often unusable. Even as a bottom tier or undergunned tank, high rated players are often forced into devoting their attention to avoiding artillery fire or dealing with suicidal rushes. If 5 tanks rush one high rated player and all die because of it, the high rated player's team will likely win the match. However, the high rated player is sitting in garage instead of driving their tank. From personal experience, the use of XVM has negatively influenced the gameplay of high rated players. I would much rather be driving a tank then sitting in garage, even if the final match outcome is a win either way. However, the effect XVM has on high rated players is not the only source of degenerate play. Players at both ends of the XVM spectrum are affected.

 

Red Rage

 

     One of the most depressingly common uses of XVM statistics is to categorize and demean players. Derogatory terms exist for essentially any player rating. Low rated players are called "tomatoes," "oranges," or "bananas" based around the color of their XVM rating. While terms exist for all rating ranges ("apples," "smurfs" and "grapes") these are almost always used by high rated players as an insult. Before XVM, players would be insulted based on their play. Someone who was playing poorly would be accused of botting, called a "baddie" or otherwise denigrated. I am not condoning this practice (even though I am guilty of it, as are most players in general) however at least these insults were based directly on witnessed play. Now, XVM results in these insults being thrown before the match even starts. A player who believes their team is at a disadvantage based on XVM ratings will often type "GG" into chat, and potentially give up on the battle. It does not need to be explained that having team members giving up before the match starts is a negative influence on gameplay. The reverse is also true - a team with a significant rating advantage may see players playing poorly or putting in less effort, believing that a win is assured. 

 

     High rated players are not immune from XVM persecution. Terms such as "stat padder," "reroll' or "no life" are often fired at players with exceptionally high ratings. This often encourages the high rated players to fire back with the previously discussed terms, leading to chains of insults and arguments which diminish team performance and can even lead to team damage or griefing. Based on these actions, the results predicted by XVM can often become a self fulfilling prophecy. The actions of users who do not understand the nature and limitations of statistical information dominate the correct applications of XVM.

 

Knowledge != Wisdom

 

     Overall, the ethics of XVM use fall on a slippery slope. The wealth of information provided grants an advantage that can easily be considered "unsportsmanlike," or as a "crutch" which does not truly contribute to skilled play - merely to assumptions and "playing the numbers." However, the universal availability of XVM means that it alone can not be considered an unfair advantage. However, I believe that XVM use is made unethical by misuse. It promotes degenerate play, reliance on imperfect statistical metrics and generally diminishes the enjoyment of players at both ends of the spectrum. It promotes adversarial, insulting communication as opposed to team play. Players who successfully gain an advantage from XVM encourage others to misuse XVM due to a lack of understanding of what the information really means. Essentially, I believe the proliferation of XVM has been harmful to World of Tanks. Therefore, while XVM can be ethically used, I believe its very existence promotes unethical and unsportsmanlike play. This game would be better off without it.

 

Thoughts?

 

MaxL_1023

 

(Edit: Added "Technically" as an option to Question 3, after one vote had been taken.)

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I went "neutral" for the second one, because apart from all the negative influences that I agree with, knowing if you can trust someone who makes a suggestion is pretty important.  

When you play a 15vs15 game, and you don't know any of the other players at the start of the game, EVERYTHING is working against working together.  Having a rating that gives a little respect to those trying to coordinate the players is a good thing, and, at the very least, offsets the negatives.  

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No. The game is better off with XVM.

For one thing, it's stunning how often reds will throw out some awful strategy suggestion that they manage to make sound plausible.

Krimson_Spud: This is assault and we are on defense, so we should all just park right around the cap circle.

Other Players: Makes sense...

Me: Guys, he has 3k matches, an average tier of 2.4 and a WR of 42%.

Other Players: Oh...

Krimson_Spud: FUCK U WR IS LUCK 1v1 ME BREH!!!1

Happens quite often. The reverse is true too; I've seen purples doing something that seemed to be a mistake, but I saw their purpleness, watched what they were doing, and it panned out.

XVM is far more than target selection. It's into about your own team, letting you know how far they can be trusted to do anything at all.

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XVM is far more than target selection. It's into about your own team, letting you know how far they can be trusted to do anything at all.

The best incarnation of XVM would be all your team's info, and none of your opponent's.  Seems like the best of both worlds.  

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The only complaint I have with in-game XVM is that it uses Overall instead of Recent. I have played with a lot of burnt-out unicums (Superspeed007, TheGreenTank) get XVM focused because they have a higher Win8 than me despite having a lower recent.

 

This gives a lot of players (including myself) XVM camouflage. The other day I was playing with _Crusader and the SPGs / pubs would all shoot at him despite myself being at around 400 hit points in my Leopard 1 (Seriously I love having a lower overall).

 

I would prefer a simple fix where in-game XVM shows the color of the player rather than the number. This means that players will see roughly how well the players are while out-of game players can still have their ePen.

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I recently went vanilla(partially out of laziness after a mod fuckup partially being tired of using last-known as a crutch) and notice that my experience is much more enjoyable and it's much easier to meet my goal of not being a dick in chat.

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I use xvm for one simple reason, to see if the person talking in chat is someone I can trust. Besides, like all mods, there will be players are will REFUSE to play without mods, I being one of them and taking XVM away will inevitably repel an amount of players(for better or for worse). 

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I no longer run XVM just because it was frustrating for myself to see how awful so many players are and that meant I was playing poorly. For some people xvm can be useful, for others it is harmful. 

 

It is still pretty easy to tell who is good and who is not through not only recognition of username and clan names but how the people are playing and distributing themselves (i.e. the T57 and Batchat who decide to go valley in Lakeville are probably not very good).

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The only complaint I have with in-game XVM is that it uses Overall instead of Recent. I have played with a lot of burnt-out unicums (Superspeed007, TheGreenTank) get XVM focused because they have a higher Win8 than me despite having a lower recent.

This gives a lot of players (including myself) XVM camouflage. The other day I was playing with _Crusader and the SPGs / pubs would all shoot at him despite myself being at around 400 hit points in my Leopard 1 (Seriously I love having a lower overall).

I would prefer a simple fix where in-game XVM shows the color of the player rather than the number. This means that players will see roughly how well the players are while out-of game players can still have their ePen.

Make your own custom setup.

The best incarnation of XVM would be all your team's info, and none of your opponent's. Seems like the best of both worlds.

I have no problem with a total fog of war in a match; display nothing about an enemy - player or tank - until they are spotted. Once spotted, their info should be displayed.

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Make your own custom setup.

 

I was making the point that it would be standard for everyone, mainly because I would be interested in how it would effect pub matches. It was merely my opinion on a better in-game XVM system, that doesn't mean it would actually be better.

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Make your own custom setup.

I have no problem with a total fog of war in a match; display nothing about an enemy - player or tank - until they are spotted. Once spotted, their info should be displayed.

Currently XVM does not support recent stats. The closest thing you can get is in tank stats. I think this is because it would require a lot more information/server space to allow for recent stats. It is one thing to ping something for one set of information (being the overall) it is quite another to get information regarding a bunch of sets that are time dependent. So then you are left with a choice, you can do something in a manner similar to how noobmeter grabs the stats in that it only records for some people and can do so decently quickly or like wotlabs and calculate for everyone which takes quite a bit of time. Though you do not have a lot of time before a match starts so you need more server power to get it done in time. One person pinging a server for a large chunk of data is enough but you figure there are many many people who use xvm and would be pinging for that data. Now you need larger and larger servers to be able to get done in a reasonable time. Servers aren't free.

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XVM is far more than target selection. It's into about your own team, letting you know how far they can be trusted to do anything at all.

i use it for this more then anything else,i like knowing if i  can trust my team to hold a position for a bit or are going to get totally nuked

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Part of why I would kind of want not have XVM comes from the fact that a certain XVM update put me at 2842 at the time that I'm typing this. I went right from green to purple. It doesn't track the ~3k games I have in the 5/4 A and thus it's 600 points higher than what it should be. I sometimes think that half the times I've gotten focused, etc. would never have happened if I appeared blue. RNGesus help me if another update puts 2850 as dark purple. >.<

 

I do think it's helpful as a tool just for confirming before the match starts which teammates are actually playing the game and which are banging their heads on the keyboard though, better to know early than to realize halfway through the match. 

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I do not think that there is anything inherently wrong about using XVM, however it can easily be misused for insulting and unnatural focus firing on purple/ blue players. As such, I think we would be better off without it.

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I have no problem with a total fog of war in a match; display nothing about an enemy - player or tank - until they are spotted. Once spotted, their info should be displayed.

I'm not sure that the nuclear option is worth it, even if it solves the problem in question.  

Knowing the composition of the other side allows for more aggressive and vibrant strategies.  For instance, is going pool in el halluf viable?  or hill on mines?  

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Yeah haha Dia you're so fucked.

Honestly while xvm is popular you might see maybe 5-7 pubbies a game using it. There are so so many problems with it, though I just like it to know which pubbies I can yolo and will probably win against.

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I use it more for assessment of my own teams' level of derptitude. I find I play better if I just assume the entire enemy team is competent. I have yoloed into some oranges and reds that seemed to get their shit together just in time to counter me.

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So far it seems that the majority of readers use XVM, however more people believe it negatively influences the game then choose not to use it. Do you feel that the personal advantage it gives you is dissociated from the overall impact it has?

 

I understand using it to analyze strategies or to anticipate team competence, however how reliable is it? Florb mentioned disparaging a strategy because the player proposing it was 42% - even though it may have been bad, using a players stats to discredit him in front of teammates doesn't appear to be sportsmanlike. I see this happen far more often then any sort of realistic debate. In fact, players in that middle rank range often misuse XVM the most - they trash talk purples AND reds.

 

Do you find a temptation to misuse XVM in this way? If there a way it could be modified to reduce this impact?

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So far it seems that the majority of readers use XVM, however more people believe it negatively influences the game then choose not to use it. Do you feel that the personal advantage it gives you is dissociated from the overall impact it has?

Its not hard to see advantage from it that you would wish your opponent not have.  

In such a case, even if you feel it does harm, you would still use it for the advantages, even if you would prefer it not exist.

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I believe there is a very simple solution to this. If you don't want XVM, implement skill-based matchmaking. WG wants their game to be taken seriously? Implement skill-based matchmaking. Do that, and XVM is not only unnecessary (you'll know the skill of your/enemy teams because it will be the same as yours), it's pointless, because you won't need extra information to know/guess how a player will react. But WG won't do that (because they'd rather have artillery), so we need XVM.

Note also that XVM does things beyond statistics. It also shows minimap data, such as last known position (there is no reason for this to not be base client information since it would be kept track of in a real engagement), or your tank's maximum visual range (again, I don't understand why this isn't just in the base client, but that's more gameplay QOL than pseudo-realism).

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I generally use it to determine when i need to abandon a position or to take a position. I am much more comfortable holding a position against a few lower ranked players if i believe my tank can handle it/i have adequate resources to survive, then being in the same situation and having 2-3 purples push me. Its a lot easier pushing into low ranked players even at a disadvantage when you know that their best players are in no position to counter you. In platoons its a viable strategy to have one player apply constant pressure on their best players while your platoon-mates mop up opposition without competition.

I have stopped generally being mean to/angry with "reds" etc, I have won games by following some moronic strategies that they have come up with (valley push on lakeville, yes I have done this when i believed other options weren't viable). As for being focused by arty, I do not have it as rough as a lot of people here, but I have just stopped caring, if arty focus' on me the entire match, that means they are not killing other players. I believe i am more capable then the majority of my teammates at staying alive, if keeping enemies focused on me results in me winning, then I'll deal with it. If being yolorushed by players results in me winning, then please yolorush me. 

 

In this way the negative impact it has helps me win. Am I "misusing" it? Probably, I want to win, if it being misused is helping me win i am fine with it. 

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I'm not sure that is misuse. Tomatoes should be seen and not heard. I damn well want to what Crab or MaxL or CarbonWard has to say.

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I'm not sure that the nuclear option is worth it, even if it solves the problem in question.

Knowing the composition of the other side allows for more aggressive and vibrant strategies. For instance, is going pool in el halluf viable? or hill on mines?

Fog of war would increase the value of those people getting early lights, though, because they'd be letting you know who and what was on the enemy team.

So far it seems that the majority of readers use XVM, however more people believe it negatively influences the game then choose not to use it. Do you feel that the personal advantage it gives you is dissociated from the overall impact it has?

I understand using it to analyze strategies or to anticipate team competence, however how reliable is it? Florb mentioned disparaging a strategy because the player proposing it was 42% - even though it may have been bad, using a players stats to discredit him in front of teammates doesn't appear to be sportsmanlike. I see this happen far more often then any sort of realistic debate. In fact, players in that middle rank range often misuse XVM the most - they trash talk purples AND reds.

Do you find a temptation to misuse XVM in this way? If there a way it could be modified to reduce this impact?

But that seems like an entirely justifiable use of XVM to me. Letting somebody know that the suggestion that just came over chat came from a terrible player is valid information that is relevant. A bad player won't always be wrong, but certainly often enough that they shouldn't be giving suggestions. That hypothetical 42%er is generally going to be the absolute worst player in his matches, and shouldn't be giving advice even to the 47% crowd.

XVM helps people evaluate suggestions in this fashion. Not that I need to know a player's WR if he says to camp around spawn at the start of a match, but new players might. The ultra-bads often mislead the new players, and having them alerted to the other guy's ultra-badness helps steer them away from those bad habits.

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My biggest issue with XVM is getting focus fired. All too frequently I get suicide rushed by autoloaders or derps, just because of my "purple." It happens especially frequently when I'm playing a light tank - I can sometimes get 2+ suicides a match. It completely ruins my gameplay, and is one of the biggest reasons I've been cutting back on LT play (primary reason being stupid alpha).

 

I would love it if XVM were no longer permitted in WoT. I don't need it personally - I'm certainly capable of using the information it provides, but it doesn't make a big enough impact to be worth the bullshit slung at me otherwise.

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