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[edit] Moderating a Renegade Game Server

Moderation in Renegade (or any game for that matter) is an extremely tough task. However, it is a necessary task and you do not need to 'go it alone'. This article serves as an introduction to server moderation.


[edit] Tools of the Trade

If you are moderating a pre-existing server, they probably have their own rules which you need to be innately familiar with. If not, you need to write up a set of rules. The other tool at your disposal is a remote-administration bot. Almost all dedicated servers have one, and these bots provide you with a set of tools for handling day-to-day moderation issues.

There are 3 generations of remote-administration bots in existence. They are:

  1. The first generation of bots consists of BlazeRegulator.NET and early versions of DragonServ. They have a primitive (moderator/administrator/temporary moderator) permission system, no internal database, no poll capabilities, and cannot parse the SSGMLog or Gamelog. First generation bots are rarely found any longer (although BlazeRegulator.NET is still available).
  2. The second generation of bots consists of BlazeRenBot (which is your only option if you are using the LFDS), uBeR.NET, CloudyServ and NightRegulator. Bots from this generation have a level-type (moderator permission levels as opposed to permission flags) permission system, either a shared (uBeR.NET) or a self-contained (all others) internal database, may have poll capabilities, and can parse the SSGMLog or Gamelog (BlazeRenBot is the only Gamelog-parsing bot that I know of). They are very common (BlazeRenBot and NightRegulator are both very widely used) on servers.
  3. The third (and most advanced) generation of bots consists of modern versions of DragonServ. They have a hybrid (both moderator permission levels and permission flags are used) permission system, a self-contained internal database, poll capabilities, and are built inside the RenFDS. They are actually rarer than second-generation bots (DragonServ is private).

[edit] Rules

One of the first things you have to do is setting (map)rules up. These should be put in a !rules or !maprules command in the bot. For the general rules you need to question yourself:

  • Is swearing allowed?
  • Is racism in any form allowed or not?
  • Is B2B allowed?
  • Is hillcamping on Hourglass allowed?
  • Are bug exploits allowed? In which way and/or which kind of bugs?
  • What commands are which status of moderators allowed to do/use?
  • Is clearscope allowed (skin for scope to remove the black)?
  • Which forms of disrespecting moderators are allowed?
  • Is Renguard a requirement?
  • Is beacon spamming allowed (can be hard, it's used as a tactic)?
  • Are the "extra" characters allowed?

[edit] The Bot

The other thing you have to do very early is familiarize yourself with the bot that you are using. BRenBot is the most common publicly-released moderation tool, however NightRegulator is also publicly available. Many servers use CloudyServ. BR.NET is no longer being developed and is not recommended, but is available. Many servers use software that is not publicly released (DragonServ, phpRenBot). Each of these bots has different features, commands, and capabilities. This article will use BRenBot commands (since that is the most common bot right now). If you are not using BRenBot, simply translate the commands to what your bot uses.

[edit] Enforcement

Moderation (like all rules enforcement) is a balance between mercy and justice. I will cover each of Ma1kel's bullet points in turn and point out a few different approaches for each.

[edit] Swearing/Cursing

This is an issue that is surprisingly difficult to handle in a public server because some people are offended by swear words, but others consider the ability to swear a right and get angry when they get punished. One thing is certain: Stick to your position on this issue and enforce it. If you are completely against cursing and your bot supports it, you may wish to turn on a speech/chat filter. (FIXME: what bots support chat filtering off the shelf? I know that the capability can be added to NR and BR.NET, but can any other bots perform chat filtering?) You could also get an IRC-bot to react on a list of swear words, first warning, then qkick'ing players. These bots have been developed in the community but are often private. Contact the server owners and they might allow you to use it.

[edit] Racism (usernames/chat)

This is somewhat easier to handle than above because most people believe it is wrong. Make sure you enforce any rules you make about this, though.

[edit] B2B

Base to Base, or B2B as it is known, is almost unanimously understood as wrong throughout the Renegade community. Enforcing rules about B2B is difficult, though, because of the fact that the other team wants to shoot at you. Add base defenses to the picture, and it can become a chore. Having moderators on both teams can mitigate some of the difficulties, though. Don't forget to precisely define what is a Base to Base!

[edit] Hill Camping

This is only a problem if you have Hourglass in your map rotation. That said, it is quite a controversial issue among members of the Renegade community because it can be difficult to counter for teams that are not highly skilled at the game. The simplest solution is to remove Hourglass from the map rotation, however, if that is unacceptable, prepare for a mess.

[edit] Bug Exploits

I will run these down in no particular order, so follow closely. The first bug is the infamous tunnel beacon. These are almost always prohibited, but be careful! Many people will lay beacons right outside the tunnel entrances, so always check the location of a suspected tunnel beacon before taking action. Then, you have Obelisk glitching and walking. Glitching the Obelisk should be prohibited as it gives GDI an unfair advantage in the game (there is no such thing as glitching the AGT, after all), however, Obelisk walking is actually an umbrella term. The two different types of Obelisk walks are backwards walking walks (which are always prohibited) and cover walks (which are only possible on Under and take an extreme level of skill to pull off). Next, there are several blocker-related glitches (Canyon contains a couple) which are often prohibited. Finally, you have buddy jumping and the PT/wall glitch (where you can use certain PT's from the outside of a building). Buddy jumping is only rarely prohibited (usually in extreme cases such as "roofnuking" the refinery on a non-flying map) and the PT/wall glitch is always allowed because it has become part of the game in many respects.

[edit] Commands

This is a rather difficult question to answer, however, I can give you some guidelines. The #1 rule of thumb when setting up bot commands is to make sure that the masses never have too much power (you don't want to have ordinary players banning each other or moderators restarting the FDS, for instance). The other major guideline that I would use is to make sure that people have enough power to do their jobs. Moderators should be able to kick and/or ban, and administrators should definitely be able to restart the bot.

[edit] Clearscope

Clearscope (or crystal scope as it is sometimes called) and related "hacks" such as neon beacon/C4/stealth skins are almost impossible for a moderator to spot because to ban them would interfere with the activites of legitimate skinners/modifiers. The only way to spot clear scope is to ask for a zoomed in screenshot. You will usually spot these skins/hacks by accident when asking for a screenshot. (FIXME: if someone has a reliable technique for spotting clearscope and friends, please tell me.)

[edit] Cheat detection

There are three distinct opinions with respect to the issue of spotting cheaters.

  • The first is the group who do not use RenGuard at all. Among those types fall most of the HazTeam clan in addition to LTRoush and FnFall. Some think RenGuard is more easily bypassed than the actual fact and feel that trusting RenGuard completely is dangerous.
  • The second group places 100% trust in RenGuard. These servers will generally see the fewest cheaters, but they often alienate genuine players and might miss a few cheaters that use cheats that fall beyond the scope of RenGuard.
  • The third group, which is the official recommendation of BHS, is to use RenGuard as your most powerful weapon against cheaters, but not your entire arsenal. Since RenGuard effectively stops all but a few publicly-released cheats (about 2-3), using RenGuard on your server will stop you from all but the most determined, knowledgeable, and connected cheaters.

(FIXME: Add information about RG SSC and cheat testing)

For information about spotting Big Head, see Hugoku's piece on that topic.

[edit] Beacon spamming

Beacon spamming has been used as a legitimate tactic, however, it also gets annoying quickly for both teams and can lead to lag for those with older/slower machines (usually only if an entire team beacon spams at once, which is VERY rare). It can also cause spam in IRC if you run a modern bot, as they report beacon placements into IRC.

[edit] Extras

The "Extra" units are an "easter egg" within Renegade Multiplayer, however, their status is in dispute. They cannot be purchased in laddered games (which, oddly enough, still exist despite the fact that XWIS has no Renegade ladder), however, Dragonade (which is only found on Black-Cell.net's servers) allow the Tiberium mutant characters (Visceroid, Initiate, Acolyte, and Templar) to be obtained through the Tiberium mutant crate and early (pre-1.4) versions of SSGM gave you an extra character when you picked up the "God crate". Some non-laddered servers do forbid the purchase of extra units (usually through the "disable list" in SSGM), too.

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