Endless Battle Issues

#1
Hello all

I'm surprised we don't already have a policy regarding this. On the current suspect ladder (no Dugtrio), it's incredibly easy and actually relatively common to enter into an endless battle. Without Dugtrio, many stall teams have no way to force a win condition.

See this battle for some context: http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/gen7oususpecttest-534670159

To save you the time of watching that replay, we both realized about 20 turns in that switching endlessly is always the most optimal choice. Making the best decision every turn would result in an infinite battle. Finally, we civilly chose to coin flip the match and move on.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but it needs to be addressed. It's one thing to say "ladder battles don't matter who cares," but if this sort of thing happens in OST or other prestigious tournament, it's going to be a real problem.

Hopefully we can find a solution here in Policy Review.
 

Oglemi

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Secret Boss Mod
#3
Our past solution was the implementation of a "tie" feature. http://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/thoughts-on-a-solution-to-infinite-time-wise-battles.83696/

If the players being able to end the match in a draw is not the desired end result in a situation such as this, I guess we need to look to other solutions like a time or turn limit. But, in my opinion, the option for both opponents to draw is most desirable, which I just noticed is not an option on PS lol, at least not randbats. Although, I think this may have led to some kind of ladder-fuckery and was removed because we definitely had the option on PO, but my memory is hazy there. This shouldn't be a problem on a server like Smogtours though.

In a situation in which one player is unwilling to draw, even if the match is going to be endless, then a moderator (of some kind, either actual moderator or TD) should be able to be called to decide the match.

A situation like the above should not pose an issue in a tournament setting for something like SPL, but for something like OST where a prudent moderator (TD) is not always going to be available, that's when things get a little tricky. Maybe something like, if the match does not end after x amount of turns after one player hits the suggest a draw button (or suggest a draw verbally if a button is not implemented) then the battle is considered void and the user that suggested can just forfeit and provide the replay as evidence that the match was a draw due to exceeding the amount of turns.

I still don't think a hard turn limit should ever be implemented, there's too much competitive potential lost unless the limit is set really high.
 

Zarel

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#5
The general concept of offering a draw is bad game design; the game should not make that kind of interaction necessary at all. There is a reason most modern games don't have an "offer draw" feature, and that's because they're designed so that manual drawing is unnecessary.

We could have the excuse that it's Game Freak's fault and not ours that the game is designed badly, except if we actually wanted to simulate the cartridges accurately, we'd have a time limit, so in the end it actually is our fault.

I can accept that sometimes we want to deviate from accurately simulating the 3DS games. But if we can fix a problem by simulating the 3DS games more accurately, I don't understand why we aren't doing that. Why is the proposed solution to add an offer draw feature, which the 3DS games don't have because they have a better fix for the problem?

Honestly, I don't want a time limit per se, but a turn limit calculated by the maximum number of turns possible under the cartridge time limit would be nice.
 

Oglemi

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Secret Boss Mod
#6
The general concept of offering a draw is bad game design; the game should not make that kind of interaction necessary at all. There is a reason most modern games don't have an "offer draw" feature, and that's because they're designed so that manual drawing is unnecessary.

We could have the excuse that it's Game Freak's fault and not ours that the game is designed badly, except if we actually wanted to simulate the cartridges accurately, we'd have a time limit, so in the end it actually is our fault.

I can accept that sometimes we want to deviate from accurately simulating the 3DS games. But if we can fix a problem by simulating the 3DS games more accurately, I don't understand why we aren't doing that. Why is the proposed solution to add an offer draw feature, which the 3DS games don't have because they have a better fix for the problem?

Honestly, I don't want a time limit per se, but a turn limit calculated by the maximum number of turns possible under the cartridge time limit would be nice.
Because not only did they design a "bad game," they also don't have a full understanding of what it means to be competitive. Their effectual turn limit is completely arbitrary, just as their banlist is. We ignore their turn limit for the same reason we ignore their banlist.
 

Josh

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#7
Because not only did they design a "bad game," they also don't have a full understanding of what it means to be competitive. Their effectual turn limit is completely arbitrary, just as their banlist is. We ignore their turn limit for the same reason we ignore their banlist.
We ignore their ban list, but we have a ban list. We can ignore their time limit, still a decent idea to have a time limit. This could and probably should only apply to ladder.

wasn't this discussed in a pr thread a few months ago?
 

Vore Gidal

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#8
Turn or time limits are a blunt-force way of dealing with this with quite a few drawbacks and I feel an arbitrary hard limit probably shouldn't be set. Is 500 turns too long? 1000? How do we determine this? Even then, win conditions can still arise from seemingly unyielding situations, like that legendary OLT game between Tele and ABR for example and if there's a win condition and both players are willing to play they should be allowed, even if it takes a long time to come to fruition. Also if other people are to make calls on this then they would have to trust in them being pretty knowledgeable, both of the meta/mons in general and the teams being used (access to accurate imports) to determine whether a situation really is a stalemate.

In the event a time or turn limit is implemented, it also needs to be asked what the result of the match would be. Would it be a tie/void match or would there be some way of determining a winner as they do in Nintendo formats like number of mons or health remaining? If it's the former then why not just add an offer draw feature? If two players can see, or feel, that playing optimally, the result would be an infinite battle then why make them waste time to trigger an arbitrary limit? The latter is a whole other can of worms.

There doesn't look to be a perfect solution to this but in my opinion, an 'offer draw' feature would be the preferable first step.
 
#9
The issue with the offer draw feature is that people abused it on suspect ladders, dodging games against their friends and leveraging it to avoid Stall vs Stall matchups. If we decide to go this route, I do not think Offer Draw should be an option until ~100 turns into the battle, although that is arbitrary
 

Oglemi

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Secret Boss Mod
#10
The issue with the offer draw feature is that people abused it on suspect ladders, dodging games against their friends and leveraging it to avoid Stall vs Stall matchups. If we decide to go this route, I do not think Offer Draw should be an option until ~100 turns into the battle, although that is arbitrary
Even waiting just 20 turns into a match alleviates that issue quite a lot I would think, but I knew there was something that people were doing to mess with the feature lol. *grumble grumble*
 

Eien

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#12
If we do not implement a hard turn limit, is there any way to possibly implement a system similar to the fifty-move rule from chess? Fifty-move rule states that if no piece has been captured or no pawn has been moved in 50 turns, then a tie is forced. From the wikipedia page on this rule:

"The purpose of this rule is to prevent a player with no chance of winning from obstinately continuing to play indefinitely or seeking to win by tiring the opponent."​

Here's an example of a disgustingly complicated system for Pokemon (I guess all endless battle systems are complicated, though?):

If:
1. No Pokemon has received direct damage (where direct damage means damage taken from the opposing Pokemon by any move)
2. No Pokemon has received net passive damage barring Pokemon with Regenerator (where net passive damage means final HP - initial HP < 0 in any one turn. self-induced damage, entry hazard damage, and ability- or item-caused damage would count)
3. No Pokemon has received net healing outside of Regenerator (where net healing means final HP - initial HP > 0 in any one turn)
4. No Pokemon with Regenerator has received greater than 30% net passive damage in any one turn
5. This is valid for X turns in a row (where X is the decided turns)

Then:
Tie is forced.

I haven't spent a ton of time on this, so if you find a loophole sorry, but assume loopholes are filled. This is also horribly complicated and I'm not advocating for implementation in this really ugly current form, but you get the general idea. The question is whether any variant of the fifty-move rule is feasibly possible in Pokemon.

P.S. In chess, there were checkmates discovered that exceed 50 turns to set up properly, and the rule was extended if intent to execute was announced. However, the rule has been returned to the original 50 moves because they require superhuman play. I'm not a tour player or anything, so I don't know whether this "superhuman play" argument would apply in Pokemon.

P.P.S. Also, I think there's likely to be a lot of overhead in programming this. Perhaps this system would only begin counting if either player requests a tie, which could be an enabled feature after Turn Y, where Y is arbitrarily decided. This would also make the intention clear to the other player and give them time to invalidate one of the 5 points.
 

Aberforth

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#13
P.S. In chess, there were checkmates discovered that exceed 50 turns to set up properly, and the rule was extended if intent to execute was announced. However, the rule has been returned to the original 50 moves because they require superhuman play. I'm not a tour player or anything, so I don't know whether this "superhuman play" argument would apply in Pokemon.
ABR's wincon took over 1000 turns to execute, but he recognised what it was well in advance, and was even openly telling people what it was. So not Superhuman, and if there is anything set up it should be for the ladder and definitely not for smogtours, where all cases can be handled by a moderator if need be.
 

Bughouse

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#14
Just add the stipulation that you have to use pp (or burn sleep turns, get fully paralyzed, etc, ie things that result from clicking a move, rather than switching) at least once every X turns, where X is as low as possible while avoiding impacting normal strategic play.

Somewhere in the 5-8 ballpark is probably good.
 

Zarel

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#15
So, um, what's wrong with my proposal?

If we don't really want a time/turn limit, one thing we could do is something like chess's threefold repetition rule. Like, three doubleswitches is an automatic draw? We could up it to, like, ten, just to be safe.
I scanned the ABR replay and I didn't see multiple doubleswitches in a row.

Tour games and ladder games should not have different wincons because at least one role of the ladder should be to practice for the tour.
 
#16
So, um, what's wrong with my proposal?



I scanned the ABR replay and I didn't see multiple doubleswitches in a row.

Tour games and ladder games should not have different wincons because at least one role of the ladder should be to practice for the tour.
Switching ten times in a row could be a very effective means of a stall team being able to beat out an offensive team that, say, doesn't have much for Toxic Spikes or maybe any means of beating out a Regenerator core. Not to mention it doesn't really prevent someone from getting up to 9 switches, clicking an attack, and then going back to switching at what might as well be considered an endless rate. Suggesting a lower limit for allowed turns of switching doesn't help either because it only encroaches on suffocating out that defensive player's very viable options.

I also don't like eien's proposal because it's, as he said, extremely complicated and the more complicated you make something the more easier it will be to find some way to slip through on the simulator side. Not to mention accessibility for new players learning the format etc etc.

The way I see it is that Stall vs Stall will almost always come down to a PP war except in situations where there is endless switching. So, keeping in mind we want to prevent battles from happening indefinitely and encourage intelligent and competitive play, we could make it so that, at some arbitrary big number, both teams' total pp count is measured and whoever has the most remaining pp wins. If it's a situation where they have an equal amount of pp then that's when you can institute a draw.

Benefits of the system:
  • Every stall vs stall game will have a defined win condition from turn 1.
  • An arbitrary big number (think 1000 or more) is still enough to incentivize intelligent play throughout the battle if there are other means of winning.
    • This is also important to note because it's obvious not every stall game will end up with endless switching like the one in the op.
  • It's simple and easy to understand if you are a player learning the stall archetype.
  • If a battle reaches x-hundred turns, one player knows for sure he has less PP, and is positive that his opponent will not misplay the rest of the match, there is a good chance that a match will end via forfeit due to early game misplays.
Disadvantages:
  • Encourages stall players to start hundreds of turns of switching from the beginning of the game based on team matchup.
  • Battles will still probably take forever. Just not forever.
I think any solution should be something that we implement to cover only the most extreme of cases. This game isn't so static that every stall vs stall matchup will be infinite or every instance of switching for 500 turns is bad from a competitive standpoint.

Also, I agree any solution should only apply to ladder. ABR vs Tele was a monument of competitive play in terms of win condition identification and execution and future battles of the sort should only be judged by a Tournament Director instead of some static ruling.
 

MattL

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#17
Disjunction I think the proposal is to enforce a draw if there are X number of consecutive double switches (i.e. both players switching on the same turn) rather than one player switching X times in a row. If one person keeps switching but the other person isn't, then the battle will progress, so that's fine.

I agree that if X is in the ballpark of 5 to 10, then that demonstrates sufficient lack of battle progression. The question is whether there would be a legitimate situation (i.e. not just stalling) in which both players would want to switch, say, 5 consecutive turns in a row. Regardless, this seems like one of the better options to me at the moment.

I understand the idea of measuring PP at some huge turn number since I agree that it often comes down to PP stall, but even in stall versus stall the player with more PP near the end definitely is not guaranteed the win. One player's team could be severely crippled compared to the other team but have like 2 more PP and then be declared the winner, which would be bad. Or, Player A could have like 2 more PP than Player B but Player B somehow has way more PP on recovery/clerical moves than Player A, but Player A would be considered the winner. I think there are too many not-really-uncommon situations where this idea would produce the "wrong" outcome for it to be effective.

Another thing that was brought up was the in-game timer. In cartridge Wi-Fi singles battles, there's a 60 minute timer that's running continuously, regardless of what's happening on the screen. However, I'm not as fond of a total battle time limit because even after an hour, battles can still have noticeable progression, as we've seen in the past.
 

Aberforth

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#18
I scanned the ABR replay and I didn't see multiple doubleswitches in a row.
Scan from about turn 400 or so. Literally just skipping to that turn and watching from there means a 27 turn wait before PP is used. In 100 turns, the pp went down by 8 in total, and yet ABR still had a wincon that he had planned out extensively, as shown by the fact he ended up 6-0ing tele in the end. I didn't go further than that, but I'm fairly sure there was a period of at least 50 turns, probably more, where PP was not used, and yet it was because ABR's wincon required similar play to that. Arguably he could have done it faster, but by imposing a time limit in that scenario, Tele could have counted the turns of PP use to know when exactly ABR had to risk the game to play accordingly, and then the outcome is not determined by the skill of the players, but by the time limit, which is not something we should promote.
 

Tele

a quality human being
#19
To make things clear and because I'm directly involved I'll just state one more time (and hopefully the last?) what happened in the game between me and abr. The game was over at turn 29 when my Registeel went down. In the long run Registeel would have been able to set Stealth Rocks on my opponent's field limiting his number of switch-ins. That and Taunt Mew would have ensured me to win the game. My Registeel wasn't supposed to go down that early and it was my own mistake for letting that happen. In my defense I have to say I agreed to play at a late time when I probably shouldn't have considering the circumstances. Anyway, from now on and for the rest of the match, abr had a clear advantage. Without SR he was basically able to bring in every of his pokemons an unlimited number of times and there was nothing I could do to prevent that. So he started making unnecessary doubleswitches with the only goal of being annoying and make fun of me. Not to mention abr was nitpicking and provoking me for the entire match.
★ABR: tele
★ABR: u gotta sleep like
★ABR: within the next 3h?
★ABR: gotta say im impressed u lasted this long

★ABR: ok time to sit another 2 hours
★ABR: hope u miss work or w\/e u do

★ABR: if ur getting tired of me trying to win i can go back to switching
★ABR: cuz uk thats what i do
★ABR: stall to annoy u

That game meant a lot to abr as his outburst after the match ended clearly showed -he called me a bitch and told me to suck his nut-. He just wanted to make the game interesting by establishing some sort of "longest tournament match ever", and obviously had a lot of free time. It was a childish behaviour and a bad match overall.
tl;dr I dont think that game should be brought as an example of an endless battle.

To answer the initial and more important post, I do think endless battle issues are a problem, and it will only get worse with the ban of Dugtrio. In fact, if you want to identify the source of the problem, look no further than Sableye-Mega. Sableye-Mega has some very important traits that I could sum up as follows: it can't be statused, it can't be taunted and his item can't be knocked off. That and his incredibly good type/ability combination make it the cornerstone of every stall team. Stall has no ways to deal with Sableye-Mega: more often that not, the only way to beat it is actually force him to waste all of his Recover's pps which can take a lot of time. I think we are really going in the wrong direction with the suspect of Dugtrio and I'm surprised some haven't realized that yet.
 

Vinc2612

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#20
I can accept that sometimes we want to deviate from accurately simulating the 3DS games. But if we can fix a problem by simulating the 3DS games more accurately, I don't understand why we aren't doing that. Why is the proposed solution to add an offer draw feature, which the 3DS games don't have because they have a better fix for the problem?
If both players forfeit the same turn, the game is called a tie,regardless of the state of the battle. I tested it myself in ORAS, and I doubt it was removed in gen 7. So we are not deviating from the 3DS games with an offer draw feature.
 

Zarel

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#22
If both players forfeit the same turn, the game is called a tie,regardless of the state of the battle. I tested it myself in ORAS, and I doubt it was removed in gen 7. So we are not deviating from the 3DS games with an offer draw feature.
That's interesting. I might actually want to slightly deviate from that implementation with a real offer-draw feature.

Do all ladder-like (Battle Spot etc) battles on 3DS have a time/turn limit? Or, at least, do Link Battles (which could be the equivalent to our tournaments) have it?
VGC time limit is 15 minutes, Battle Spot time limit is 30 minutes, and link battle time limit is 60 minutes, iirc.
 

Mr.E

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#23
Turn/Time limits are strictly a feature that exists in real-life tournaments to keep a schedule. That's important when it comes to hosting hundreds of people in a physical space for a limited timeframe, like VGC. Time isn't important for random ladder matches online, though a really long timer like Battle Spot wouldn't see any opposition from me insofar as it's the only actual solution to a hypothetical unforced endless battle, because there's no real incentive for either party to accept a draw in lieu of having a virtual staring contest with their opponent and trying to wait them out IRL. It's not important for online tournaments where most of the time we have at least a week to schedule and a simulator is accessible wherever Internet access is available, and in this case we should try to avoid deciding games by outside factors. (And in a tourney setting, we don't even need a draw button. Tourney protocol differs from ladder, you won't get away with trying to wait out your opponent to win without battling nor is any "rating" at stake.)

I don't think we need to build any solution into the simulator for this unlikely problem. Maybe a timer for the ladder only if people insist enough.
 
#24
If both players forfeit the same turn, the game is called a tie,regardless of the state of the battle. I tested it myself in ORAS, and I doubt it was removed in gen 7. So we are not deviating from the 3DS games with an offer draw feature.
That's true only in link battles. Ranked battles on Battle Spot do not have ties, indeed if both players forfeit on same turn, they will both lose.
 

North

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#25
A time/turn limit should not be the way this issue should be solved. I would rather just extend the endless battle to end a battle where this scenario would trigger it. Could we make it to where if both players switch between Pokemon with no net damage for x turns it warns both players if this continues for x more turns the game will end with the endless battle clause? While this removes the possibility of tele vs abr 2.0 happening where a player wins after 2000 turns, it creates a draw scenario that does not limit the capabilities of a long battle while not being abuseable by the players. It is already possible for people on the ladder to nullify a game if both of them leave with no timer on so this is no worse than if 2 players purposely trigger this scenario.

The major problem I have with time/turn limits is it can create an abuseable win condition. If you are in a match vs say stall, and there is absolutely no way you can break through them, but you can make the game last as long as you want by switching, you put yourself in a scenario where you can eliminate the possibility of losing by just playing it to the turn limit. Now say in the same scenario with a chess clock, and you are playing faster than your opponent, you can run their clock down to zero before your clock runs out, and give yourself a win despite not actually being able to win the match.

tl;dr: Add an extension to endless battle clause to where if both players switch for x number of turns without taking any net damage the game ends in an endless battle clause instead of a time/turn limit since it creates win conditions outside of the match