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Unread 28 Jan 2010, 01:05   #1
ellonweb
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Pa api

People have been asking PATeam for some kind of API to PA for quite a while in order to provide hooks for alliance tools. I understand PATeam seems quite reluctant to do this, for whatever reason, seemingly to focus in first party tools.

I'm curious how feasible (easy to implement, time etc) it would be (and willing PATeam would be) to add an API to the main game. What I'm talking about is a way to provide all the information that is normally available to the player while logged in, in a minimal, data-centric way, for example as some kind of JSON, or XML data, or however you want to do it. I could see this being implemented quite easily just as an extra "skin", though I'm not sure how PA's skins work.

This would also need to be partnered with a simple system for issuing commands in the game, though really there wouldn't need to be much in the way of change here as this would just be simple HTTP POSTs, like things are at the moment. There is however the possibility to re-engineer some of the underlying systems here however, and make PA more future-proof if PATeam has any plans for a fancy AJAX frontend, which would also benefit from a simple data pushing interface. (Basically I'm talking about being able to submit a page request (fleet command) without receiving a whole page back.)

The main issue I see, ignoring time constraints to actually implement this, is security and authentication and server load. It would still be possible to push users of this API through a bot checker (easiest solution is sending my code a URL for a bot checker image, and from there everything would be the same as a browser). I just don't want to have to deal with all the excessive HTML, I just want to be given the minimal data.

Regarding server load: well, anyone is able to spam requests to PA with or without an API, so having an API isn't going to make a difference there. People spamming the server can have their IPs blocked just as normal.

In short, what I'm asking for is a skin that is essentially a JSON (or XML or something like that) source of data, and a request system that simply acknowledges/confirms my request, but doesn't throw tons of data back at me as if I've loaded a new page.


For those intrigued, the reason I'm bringing this up:
[22:58] <@ellonweb|a> does anyone here have an iphone?
[22:58] <@Benneh> i do
[22:59] <@ellonweb|a> i have a module on the iphone this semester, i need to make something
[22:59] <@ellonweb|a> tell me what to make
[22:59] <@Benneh> er
[22:59] <@maggs> planetarion for the iphone
[23:00] <@Benneh> yeah
[23:00] <@ellonweb|a> hah
[23:00] <@ellonweb|a> ok
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Unread 28 Jan 2010, 01:53   #2
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Re: Pa api

After speaking to Cin, it turns out this is almost impossible given the current state of the code.

For those of you technically inclined, this is because the code is not separated MVC style as one might expect, and therefore the only things different skins can change are the images and CSV: changes to the textual output are not possible, making JSON/XML output impossible (as part of a skin, anyway).

Essentially, my idea could not be implemented without a huge amount of code changes or a whole recode.

To anyone thinking about making a new game in future (HI SPINNER): keep this in mind during your development process?
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Unread 28 Jan 2010, 01:56   #3
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Re: Pa api

I still think you should have gone with the toilet guide.
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Unread 28 Jan 2010, 02:53   #4
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Re: Pa api

It would've been nice to see baby steps being taken towards this, such as scans being available in an alternative format (XML, JSON) which is more easily parsed by bots. It could be a small change which has a larger impact than a full API to other parts.
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Unread 29 Jan 2010, 16:00   #5
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Re: Pa api

Project for your iphone app:
Make a mobile version of ********!
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Unread 30 Jan 2010, 15:38   #6
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Re: Pa api

Quote:
Originally Posted by ellonweb View Post
After speaking to Cin, it turns out this is almost impossible given the current state of the code.

For those of you technically inclined, this is because the code is not separated MVC style as one might expect, and therefore the only things different skins can change are the images and CSV: changes to the textual output are not possible, making JSON/XML output impossible (as part of a skin, anyway).

To anyone thinking about making a new game in future (HI SPINNER): keep this in mind during your development process?
Without going into specifics I can say that managerleague has a similar system. Most of the traffic is ajax, and the output is JavaScript.
Authenticatipn is not a problem AS that is handeled by the script receiving the ajax-call (which comes from your browser and thus has access to cookies for the auth)
You might want something without cookies for auth and that could be a problem with security though.
Also, with Pa, an api can be made fairly easily if things in the code looks a bit like it did when I left. You could simply copy the contents of the functoon called something like ProcessForms from each "page" and stick them all into a new file called api.pl or something. Then sort out potential name-conflicts for the actions, and replace the output with either statuscodes or JavaScript.
Shouldnt be too hard or timeconsuming I think?

AS for a new game, I can not confirm anything.
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Unread 30 Jan 2010, 17:15   #7
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Re: Pa api

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AS for a new game, I can not confirm anything.
Or deny

So when can we signup for alpha spinner?
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Unread 30 Jan 2010, 17:47   #8
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Re: Pa api

Be aware that an API for a browser-game would actually make no sense if you can play the game through it - unless you want to make sure that your user interfaces gets as few traffic as possible, and if you want to open up the ability for bots to play.
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Unread 30 Jan 2010, 19:16   #9
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Re: Pa api

An API to play the game through allows other user interfaces, and doesn't limit the game specifically to your designed interface. The benefit of this with regard to what I was trying to do, would be that it would allow an app for a phone to show just as good an interface as the main game (graphics et al) without having to use bandwidth on downloading the images (because they're part of the app), and also not having to download shed loads of HTML and so on.

Assuming you don't **** up authentication, this would have no affect on bots playing or not (unless that's something you want to allow, but that's getting a little off topic).
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Unread 30 Jan 2010, 19:42   #10
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Re: Pa api

An alliance/information api(def calls, intel, dumps etc) makes sense, a-game-playing api does not make sense, to me anyway.
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Unread 31 Jan 2010, 03:38   #11
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Re: Pa api

Both are useful. The point is that an alliance/information api would require a significant change in attitude from PATeam. A game playing api would not change anything and more importantly, I thought it might be an easy implementation, though I was wrong on that.
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Unread 31 Jan 2010, 09:55   #12
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Re: Pa api

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Originally Posted by ellonweb View Post
Both are useful. The point is that an alliance/information api would require a significant change in attitude from PATeam. A game playing api would not change anything and more importantly, I thought it might be an easy implementation, though I was wrong on that.
how would a game playing api require less of an attitude change? considering the reluctance to remove the bot stopper why would they introduce a method to make it easier for botabiity? I agree their attitude is more to making their own alliance tools better to replace anything we could come up with externally, but surely they should provide the api so that we have a choice
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Unread 31 Jan 2010, 11:56   #13
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Re: Pa api

I agree with Gabriel on this one. While a game-playing API has legitimate uses, I would not be in favour of handing players an easy way to add bots to the game. That sort of thing has a much higher impact on gameplay than information retrieval API ever could.
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Unread 31 Jan 2010, 14:48   #14
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Re: Pa api

Bloody hell do you people not read? This API would not make it easier for bots, because the botchecker image would still be there. That said it's hardly a perfect system and I know at least one person that has code that can fairly often accurately decipher the images, but that's getting a little off topic!

Anyways, for posterity's sake, here is what I wrote originally regarding security and bots again:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellonweb View Post
The main issue I see... is security.... It would still be possible to push users of this API through a bot checker (easiest solution is sending my code a URL for a bot checker image, and from there everything would be the same as a browser).
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellonweb View Post
Assuming you don't **** up authentication, this would have no affect on bots playing or not (unless that's something you want to allow, but that's getting a little off topic).
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Unread 31 Jan 2010, 19:37   #15
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Re: Pa api

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Originally Posted by Hiall View Post
Or deny

So when can we signup for alpha spinner?
Hypthetically speaking, Id guess not this year actually. It depends on how far (and nuts) we are going.
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Unread 31 Jan 2010, 20:55   #16
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Re: Pa api

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Originally Posted by ellonweb View Post
To anyone thinking about making a new game in future (HI SPINNER): keep this in mind during your development process?
he should know, he's learnt from doing it this way in manager league. We have moved several things off pages into libraries, and any new features are in libraries. We just don't have the resources to do a complete recode and retest just to change the code paradigm.
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Unread 1 Feb 2010, 15:07   #17
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Re: Pa api

Isnt the whole API thing just a read only affair?

If so then why would bots be a problem?
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Unread 1 Feb 2010, 15:45   #18
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Smile Re: Pa api

Quote:
Originally Posted by Appocomaster View Post
he should know, he's learnt from doing it this way in manager league. We have moved several things off pages into libraries, and any new features are in libraries. We just don't have the resources to do a complete recode and retest just to change the code paradigm.
By libraries, I am going to guess you mean pushing the code into the .pm lib-files..The nasty thing about putting logic in there is that the webserver needs to be restarted everytime you make a change. The good part is of course the smaller footprint and the benefit of shared memory.

I decided the hassle wasn't worth it, so I went for the api.pl version in stead.

Such an api-thing makes it fairly trivial to make a mobile interface as well, as you can check on the hostname and provide different output based on that...So a virtual host of wap.planetarion.com can thus use the same logic but output a more mobile output, ahilw for instance api.planetarion.com produce it's own kind of output. etc...
game.planetarion.com could just output what it does today ofc...

Anyway, I am not going into the bot-debate here, as that's a whole different can of worms. Maybe the fact that a bot can outplay human players in PA is more a weakness in the game-concept though, I dunno. (-:
I mean, if it is about auto-recall, running away with fleets, auto-scanning incs etc, surely someone being the leader of an entire planet could have some peons doing such work for him while he sleeps
then again, changing the gameplay so much would make it not.quite.planetarion.com I guess....

Best of luck Apocco, even if it looks like you're not going down this path.
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Unread 1 Feb 2010, 22:55   #19
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Re: Pa api

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrLobster View Post
Isnt the whole API thing just a read only affair?

If so then why would bots be a problem?
Why is everyone so bad at reading lately? If you read the thread, you'd see the very thing I suggested was an API that isn't read only. Ho hum, it's not happening so there's no point to this thread anymore. :\
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Unread 2 Feb 2010, 08:16   #20
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Re: Pa api

Your right i didnt read it as hard as i should.

When people talk about api, I think of eve-onlines version which just is read only and you cannot control the game unless your using the client (which the api isnt in control).

I can see api would work when all its doing is pulling data (with or without the bot checker). So you could just have a bot checking 24/7 if the account has hostile, but it cant do anything other than relay this info to the alliance chan bot or a website.

So basically your asking that the game can be controlled through API and the GUI (for whatever the device) controls the API?
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Unread 2 Feb 2010, 08:31   #21
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Re: Pa api

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Originally Posted by Mzyxptlk View Post
I would not be in favour of handing players an easy way to add bots to the game.
Having said that, are you actually living under the illusion that a significant part of the "bot planets" (small suspicious planets sending defense fleets and so forth) have been bots? Because this isn't the case, most of them have been human controlled - perhaps "bots" in a different fashion than what you're thinking about.

I don't think bots ever were a big problem in Planetarion, really.
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Unread 2 Feb 2010, 09:29   #22
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Re: Pa api

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Originally Posted by Tietäjä View Post
I don't think bots ever were a big problem in Planetarion, really.
At this point the big siren from QI would be screaming...

Anyone who remembers before the introduction of the bot checker, will remember the name Killmark. This guy managed to get hold of I believe over 100 accounts (even though the fleets were small) and was able to use them all in any way he wanted.

A small part of the alliance Reborn (RB in pre pax era), also used bots, which both fury and legion were allied to, but then killed off because of this.

Even I used a planet checker in pre-PAX, which checked the planet for hostiles every few minutes.
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Unread 2 Feb 2010, 10:57   #23
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Re: Pa api

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Originally Posted by MrLobster View Post
At this point the big siren from QI would be screaming...
I hope you're joking giving me a lecture of planetarion early round cheats? I mean, if you look at the free to pay rounds the extent of cheating was far, far beyond botting, and botting was, in compared to multiple accounts, farm planets (often supported by multiple accounts), very, very marginal.

Now, post-PAX, when you eliminated all these bots with the messy confirmation picture, the cheating continued. Do you think this retard siren of yours should be more concerned about the fact that cheating with or without elaborate tools - and I'd like to emphasize the word "with" - has continued in a large extent regardless of your confirmation windows. The fact that you do not know the actual extent of this is merely a testament to your ignorance, rather than your widespread knowledge of Killmark or Taluskylä in ancient rounds that consist of what, five rounds out of thirtyfive? I mean, c'mon.

The lesson learned is that if you actually want to cheat and not get caught of it, things like the confirmation window are minor inconveniences. The fact that you consider two or three incidents of big bot armies a large scale issue infesting this game - - considering they were fairly isolate incidents and happened years ago, and pale in comparison to what continued to go on since, is juts naive.
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Unread 2 Feb 2010, 11:36   #24
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Re: Pa api

If bots were never a problem then why do we have a bot checker? Bots also now are sophisticated enough to understand the bot checker picture.

I also never said that botting was bigger than any other cheating type, but its a smaller percentage of people with a few bots (controlling lots of accounts) can cause the most harm.

The API has more to do with bots, than people using VNC. Although the API isnt really needed as you can control HTML anyway.

My post was regarding your own naivety in regards to bots not being a problem at all in PA (Pre or post pax).

So imagine an API bot which used vnc and also had a image recognition built in. I just feel like producing one just to hear the "retard" siren.
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<MrLobster|PM> i have 2, the pa page, and the website for naked light pictures
<Ave> both has bad gfx
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Unread 2 Feb 2010, 12:23   #25
Mzyxptlk
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Re: Pa api

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tietäjä View Post
Having said that, are you actually living under the illusion that a significant part of the "bot planets" (small suspicious planets sending defense fleets and so forth) have been bots? Because this isn't the case, most of them have been human controlled - perhaps "bots" in a different fashion than what you're thinking about.

I don't think bots ever were a big problem in Planetarion, really.
Regardless, my point stands.
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Unread 2 Feb 2010, 13:06   #26
Tietäjä
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Re: Pa api

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Originally Posted by MrLobster View Post
If bots were never a problem then why do we have a bot checker? Bots also now are sophisticated enough to understand the bot checker picture.
Because it's a seemingly obvious cure to a problem perceived as so big. Unlike the method mentioned below, bots generally tend to get caught quite fast. It's a rash, not an issue.

Quote:
The API has more to do with bots, than people using VNC. Although the API isnt really needed as you can control HTML anyway.
Now here indeed is the problem, and it's far, far broader than Killmark doing dirty things with Reborn's infant child.

Quote:
So imagine an API bot which used vnc and also had a image recognition built in. I just feel like producing one just to hear the "retard" siren.
Your retard siren wouldn't make a sound if you knew that the vast majority of unnocited PAX cheating has been exercised by VNC able to access multiple planets anyways? Probably not? It's no big deal in compared to Killmark. Let's be honest here: let me know how many rounds have been won through armies of bot planets, and I'll go count you a figure of how many round victories have been heavily influenced by remote controlling multiple accounts (incidentally, also against the rules).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mzyxptlk
Regardless, my point stands.
In fact the inverse might well stand - if you'd make it so that people wouldn't have to bot the game, or that mechanisms like this would be more accessible to more people, perhaps the inevitable - the core elite that cheats anyways - wouldn't be so significantly torn apart from the rest. The game's always struggled to stay in pace with the actual cheats.


edit. excuse me, my lunch date was screaming.
Now, the point is, by making these certain rules such as accessing multiple planets "against the rules" you're essentially restricting a chunk of people, the majority of the more casual playerbase, from having much of a chance against those who regardless of the rules (yeah, circumstancial and anecdotal evidence is anecdotal, but most people who have a clue will also have a hint of the extent of actual cheating in this game) can do things they want to do. The argument is, bots playing planets have generally been very, very easy to detect and suspend in compared to what the actual problem of the cheating in the game is - the more elaborate going around the rules done extensively is something you can easily and most do get away with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrLobster
Bots also now are sophisticated enough to understand the bot checker picture.

The API has more to do with bots, than people using VNC. Although the API isnt really needed as you can control HTML anyway.
This begs the inevitable question: if you can bot it regardless of the checker picture, what's the function of trying to prevent something inevitable with a pointless picture, or not develop a helpful application to the game because something inevitable might happen? Bots aren't the trend of the day, anyways.

Last edited by Tietäjä; 2 Feb 2010 at 13:54.
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Unread 2 Feb 2010, 22:31   #27
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Re: Pa api

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrLobster View Post
So basically your asking that the game can be controlled through API and the GUI (for whatever the device) controls the API?
Yes. And it would still require going through a bot checker, so regardless of how much impact this has on reducing cheating, nothing would change.
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